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What are Different Types of Seashells?

By Erika Peterson
Updated May 21, 2024
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There are hundreds of different types of seashells, and at any given time, in fact, there are countless amounts of seashells lying on the ocean floor. Some are homes to living creatures, and others are vacant shells that are waiting to be washed ashore. Certain seashells are native to particular areas of the world; however, there are several different types that can be found on any beach. To understand the variety of seashells, it is important to pay attention to each shell’s specific characteristics, including their size and shape.

Every seashell has one thing in common: it comes from some kind of species of a marine mollusk. There are four different classes of marine mollusks, and there are several types in each class. All marine mollusks have a shell, which are unique to their owners.

Some seashells are small, and others are large, depending on the species and the creature's age. Shells are commonly found washed up on sandy beaches and shores after the mollusk dies. The ocean and sun make slight changes to shell during its journey to land, including surface and color changes. As a result, seashells are often whiter and smoother on land than they ever where in the ocean.

One of the most common types of seashells is the cockle, and it can be found on beaches around the world. A cockle is a small salt water clam. It is edible and is enjoyed around the world as a fresh seafood dish. Out of the over 200 varieties of cockles, there are two basic types of shells — smooth and ridged — and they look similar to one another.

The sand dollar is another common type of seashell, and it comes from a marine creature of the same name. The shell can also be referred to as a test. Sand dollars look quite different from other types of seashells. They are flat and round, and they have a bleached appearance.

The conch shell, which was once the home certain species of snails, can greatly vary in size. This type of shell is appreciated for its beauty and the sound that air makes when blown through it. Conch shells can actually be used as musical instruments.

Some of the other seashell types include scallops, starfish, oysters, abalone shells.

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Discussion Comments
By wesley91 — On Jul 11, 2010

@cmsmith10: I am also a collector of seashells. I like to paint sand dollars. It is hard to find one perfectly intact these days. You have to be really carefully transporting them because they are easily broken. I paint different designs on them and go to craft shows and sell them.

By cmsmith10 — On Jul 11, 2010

I love seashells and every time we go to the beach, I use it as an opportunity to collect more shells. I have an aquarium at home and I have a ton of seashells in it that I have gathered over the years. I paint some of them to give the fish tank more color.

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