Seashell collecting goes back to the times of the Roman Emperors and Egyptian Pharaohs, and became a hobby of many European kings and other wealthy people of the 17th Century; collectors could pay large prices for rare shell specimens, sharks’ teeth, and fossils.
Conchologists, as shell collectors are called, have varied reasons for their interest in shells, most have to do with wanting to learn more about what is in the world around us.
Volunteer Penny Bray, a local shell expert, developed the Coastal Interpretive Center’s shell collection displays. This comprehensive collection represents the common species found along most of the Washington coast including the Point Brown Peninsula. Included in the collection are sand dollar tests and shells such as clams, mussels, chitins, barnacles, crabs, oysters and shrimp. Also found in the Shell Room are displays including sport fish and sport fishing, oysters as a heritage industry, crabbing, offshore coral and much more. Many of the shell displays provide a hands-on learning experience.