Seashells: A Precious Resource
Living on Kauai, and any island for that matter, is an amazing adventure daily. I’m continually reminded of the limited/finite resources available and I try my best to conserve resources by default as a way of life. It is one of the many aspects of the Hawaiian culture that I find honorable and their role of a sustainable way of living is a model we can all learn from.
Over the years I have witnessed more and more plastic on the beaches, and unfortunately fewer and fewer shells. The popularity of Sunrise Shell (Langford’s Pecten) and Puka Shell jewelry in Hawaii has exploded. Unfortunately, this has led to over-harvesting of shells, especially in the case of the Sunrise Shells. Divers will sometimes capture the scallops live to harvest their shells, which has lead to an over-saturated marketplace, and a dangerous decline in Langford’s Pecten population (the animals). Similarly, overfishing has led to a dramatic decline in fish population across all of the islands.
Know Your Source
One of the magical aspects of the Sunrise Shell, in my opinion, is that they are extremely difficult to find on the beach. I have lived here for over 6 years, and have only found one on the beach. For this reason, I only use ethically-sourced shells (those that have been abandoned by their inhabitants) for all shell jewelry pieces created by Ocean Tuff Jewelry.
One way to know for sure is to find the shells ourselves on the beach, another is to only purchase uncleaned shells from divers. What are uncleaned shells, you ask? They are shells found typically along the bottom of the ocean or along reef shelves that have a noticeable amount of calcium and other mineral deposits on them. Buying shells this way ensures that an animal did not have to die for your shell.
Mahalo & Aloha!
Uncleaned Sunrise Shells, found on ocean bottom or reef shelves. Notice the calcium and other deposits.
Photo credit: SunriseOscar