The Eleven Basic Rules of Shelling Etiquette
by Jan McSween
(borrowed from the Sarasota Shell Club's December 2010 newsletter)
1.) Shell by yourself. Solo shelling means more for you.
2.) If you must shell with a companion, walk in opposite directions.
3.) If you must shell with a companion and walk in the same direction, walk faster than your shelling companion.
4.) If you must shell with a companion and walk in the same direction at the same speed, observe the 6-ft. radius rule (also known as Shelling Circles) to ensure the equitable distribution of finds. Anything within six feet of you (in any direction) is yours. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the same goes for your companion. This necessitates maintaining a minimum distance of 12 feet from your shelling companion at all times.
5.) If you notice something of interest in your companion’s shelling circle which he/she seems to have overlooked, you may want to:
a. Be polite and point it out to your companion
b. Be sneaky and wait until your companion has moved more than 6 feet away from it, then casually saunter over to collect it (nonchalance is essential when employing this tactic) or…
c. grab the item in question from under your companion’s nose. With this tactic you stand a good chance of losing a friend, or (in the event your quarry happens to be a Junonia), an appendage. Deservedly so.
6.) Any shells outside your respective shelling circles are fair game, and the first person to touch these items with his or her toe (Benediction of the Big Toe) gets first refusal. Likewise, shouting, “I don’t know what that is, but I saw it first!” earns the shouter first
refusal. However, shouting this phrase after your companion is already en route to deliver a toe benediction earns you nothing but a poor shellsmanship award.
7.) When shelling at a dredge pipe with other shellers, DO NOT jump in front of the other shellers to grab things shooting out the pipe. Doing so sanctions any punitive actions taken by the other shellers – up to and including the use of force to place your head in the pipe.
8.) If your companion finds a particularly outstanding shell, offer congratulations. DO NOT say, “I saw it first.” Do not whine, pout, or behave like a two year old. Under no circumstances should you attempt to steal it.
9.) If YOU find a particularly outstanding shell, count your blessings and thank the Universe for sending
it your way. DO NOT jump up and down while yelling, “Yippy!” or “YES!” or “So THERE!” Doing so is a great (and very quick) way to make people hate you. There
is one – and only one – exception to this rule:
“OH MY GOD I FOUND A JUNONIA!” is acceptable. Another benefit of solo shelling is the ability to yell whatever you darn well please.
10.) Do not offer to “share” multiples of your shells with other shellers. You will forget making the offer, but they will not.
11. ) Enjoy the process of finding, and revere each find – perfect or otherwise – for the miraculous creation it is.