“We bring the bottom of the ocean to you,” says Richard Urban of his mission as owner of the Discovery Seashell Museum in Ocean City.
The combination museum and store has been a fixture at 2721 Asbury Avenue since 1968. Here visitors can see such attractions as a 200-pound shell from a man-eating clam in the Philippines, a selection of pink conch shells from the Bahamas and teeth from an ancient, 60-foot species of shark called the megalodon. Closer to home, Urban features exhibits of the knobbed whelk—the New Jersey state shell, right—surf clams and starfish.
“We have more than 5,000 species of shells from around the world,” says Urban, who designs the museum to appeal to people of all ages.
Shell collecting runs in the family for Urban, 31, and the third-generation owner of the museum. “My grandfather [Paul Krish] was an avid shell collector and traveler. When he visited exotic lands, he would pick up shells to bring back home.”
Urban has continued in his grandfather’s footsteps, traveling the world and gathering shells from many continents. “I never looked at it as a job,” Urban says. “I’m doing something I enjoy.”
The museum is open daily 9 am to 7 pm through Labor Day weekend. Admission is free. A selection of shells is for sale at the museum and online at shellmuseum.com.