How to Find a Whelk in the Outer Banks

How to not let a cloudy day rain on your next Surf Trip

When you plan a visit to a beach town, its mighty difficult to plan the weather at the time you schedule your trip.  I mean, the weather channels have a hard time predicting weather in the next 72 hours let alone weeks or months out (depending how much a planner your are).

anchorman-2-the-legend-continues-steve-carell-600x399 whelk

So you unfortunately, when you travel, you have to take the weather as it comes, good or bad.  Yet, even in what some would consider the “bad”, you can have some unique experiences if you are willing to do some venturing.  Just remember, nothing ventured nothing gained.

So think back and picture when you were younger and you scoured the beaches up and down collecting the best sea shells? It was and is always fun to have a collection of sea shells from the rad surf destinations you have visited. Each one has its own personality and if you are like one of the Live Swell team, can name every place that each shell came from. What you might not have known is that stormy weather brings the best opportunities to find a perfect whelk in places like OBX.

So if you happen to find yourself in some stormy conditions in the Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina, you may have the opportunity to score some pretty cool shells; if you know where and when to look.

But wait! What’s a Whelk – Whelk definition

A lot of people are familiar with the broad term for sea shells, but may be as familiar with the name whelk. A whelk is simply the common name that is applied to various kinds of sea snail. They are relatively large, so are definitely the hidden gems avid sea shell hunters like to bag (see image below).

Where to find a whelk in the Outer Banks

Imagine coming off the beach having bagged a bunch of these “whelks”  in less than an hour. If you know where to look, you don’t have to imagine it but can have a sea shell find like the one pictured below:

This was our bag load of whelks, set up at the Chill Beach and Surf Bungalow OBX

This was our bag load of whelks, set up at the Chill Beach and Surf Bungalow OBX

The trick is to head to the beach during or just after some stormy conditions at low tide.  Often in the Outer Banks, big storms include, Tropical Storms, Hurricanes and NorEasters at various times of the year stirring up the sea floor and littering the shore with seashells.

When you arrive the the beach just after low tide you may surprise yourself with a bounty of beautiful seashells including the whelk and a great story of how you found your treasure.  Thats exactly what we did at one of our visits at our second home in the Outer Banks, the Chill Beach and Surf Bungalow OBX, The whelks appear like large sized dark stones from afar and are typically laying on the sand.  But be sure to check in and around structures and sea weed.  All these shells above were found simply laying on the beach like “low hanging fruit.”

So the next time you are on a surf trip in a rad surf destination and the clouds roll in, just remember some of the fun unique experiences that make these destinations great, are experienced in “bad” weather.

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