Authored by Kennedy Allen in Nature and Wildlife
Published on 09-29-2009
There are hundreds and hundreds of different types of seashells. Walking along the shores, anyone can see the vast array of different species. While some seashells provide homes for many types of sea dwelling creatures, others are simply a protective covering used by a species until it dies, and then it is crushed into sand or washed onto shore by the waves and currents of the sea.
Seashells are generally the hard protective coverings of all marine mollusks. Marine mollusks are soft-bodied sea creatures which need to live within these proverbial homes. There are 4 different types of marine mollusks that can be identified by their shells, and within those types there are numerous species.
Perhaps the most common type of seashell found on the shores of most beaches is the cockle. The cockle is a small clam which can be found alive on most shores simply by digging a few inches into the sand at most locations around the globe. When the cockle clam expires, they leave behind their shells, and being as to how they live on the shore, their shells are the most common.
Cockle shells can range in size, although mainly they are very small. These seashells come in a wide variety of colors and shapes which usually depend on the region where they are found. Some cockle seashells can be purple, pink, blue or beige, and their natural color changes depending on how long the seashell has been exposed to the natural elements such as the sun or constant pounding of the waves.
Another common type of seashell is the conch shell. Conch seashells are very much larger than the tiny cockle seashells, although they can vary in sizes. Their shape is usually that of a little spiral tent where the creature can crawl into for self-defense. The creature that inhabits a conch shell is most commonly a snail, although other creatures such as the hermit crab might pick one up and make it their fortress.
Some conch seashells grow to nearly the size of a soccer ball while others can be the size of a fingernail. These smaller types of conch seashells are rarer to find because they usually signify that the conch died early and left behind a weak shell which is quickly crushed by the pounding waves.
A very prized and beautiful seashell is the abalone. Abalone seashells are used around the world to make jewelry, and the creature itself is considered a delicacy in many countries. Abalone seashells resemble mother of pearl on the inside, while on the outside they are rather plain looking. Depending on how much time has gone by since this seashell has been inhabited, an abalone shell might be covered in seaweed and smaller mollusks living on its surface.
The types of seashells one can find on any given shoreline are virtually endless. Before removing seashells from a beach, keep in mind you might be robbing a creature of its possibility for a suitable home. Also, seashells are what make sandy shorelines possible. While they are beautiful to admire, they are best left where found.