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Sea Shell-ters: Home Is Where the Shell Is

The cutest marine creatures I’ve ever seen is the small coconut octopus. I watched a video of this mini invertebrates the other day (see below). These highly intelligent creatures have a unique habit – they fossick for empty coconuts and sea shells. And they transform them into a cozy home for itself.

Watch how this coconut octopus masterfully carries a shell on the floor bed

Found in Indonesia, these six-inch long critters are found mostly near coral reefs and deep-sea caves, but they can also be seen swimming on top of water during low tide.

Once a coconut octopus selects its favorite shell as a shield and shelter, it will carry their newfound home around with them until they need to use it again.

Which brings me back to really appreciate the role of seashells in marine life.

Seashells start out as the outer skeletons of invertebrates (animal without backbones). Clams. Snails. Oysters and others. So they serve as natural homes for these living creatures. when these animals die, they leave behind their dwellings for other sea animals to ‘inherit’ as their own home and shelter.

As in the case of the coconut octopus.

There is an ongoing shell craze taking over the jewellery world (as of this writing, they are the top 7 jewellery accessories of Spring 2021). I’d like to think as a jewellery artist, I consider these sea gems more than just pretty coastal ornaments.

They have the power to tell one’s story. Because shells are marine dwellings, they are an expression of our very own safe haven. Our shield and protection. Our home sweet home.

Here are some of my sea shell jewellery pieces. I personally beachcomb most of the seashells In my jewellery designs (except for the paua shells, which I source from a local paua farm here in Northland).

So the next time you go beachcombing, marvel at these wonderful organic jewels of the ocean. Remember that at one point in time, these shells were homes to some little sea creatures! And now they are just left behind as empty souvenirs on our beaches – waiting for someone else’s story to begin.

– Rina