Sea Shell Facts


For many, collecting shells at the sea shore is a vacation tradition. While collectors often appreciate the aesthetics of seashells, they may not be familiar with the science behind sea shells and their various uses.


  • Shells, or exoskeletons, are made of calcium-carbonate, which is a substance produced by sea animals' fleshy mantles. As the animal grows, so does the size of its shell.


  • Sea shells come in a variety of textures and colors. Some shells have ridges, while others are smooth and glossy; some are solid-colored, while others feature spots and other patterns.


  • Mollusks, or the invertebrate animals that produce shells, are divided into two main categories. Univalves are animals with one shell, for example conchs; bivalves such as clams have two shells.


  • In addition to providing the animal with shape and rigidity, its shell protects an animal from predators by camouflaging it.


  • One can find shells anywhere where mollusks live, including the ocean, streams, rivers, mangrove areas and on land.


  • Different cultures use sea shells for a variety of purposes. While the animal inside the shell often serves as food, uses for empty shells include decorations for the home and jewelry.


  • Photo Credit Petr Kratochvil/
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