There are different types of beaches and multiple factors that influence the formation of sand. Many beaches may look alike, but they are actually very different from each other. Wave patterns, geology, and other factors shape the composition, size, texture, and color of sand. Grains can be big or small, rough or smooth, glittery or dull, and made of light shells or dark minerals.
The sand pictured here was collected from Orient Point, Long Island, NY. Learn more about the formation of sand, and the animals that call it home, in the Shores and Shallows exhibit at the Smithsonian's Sant Ocean Hall.