How to Identify Beach Shells

Written by samantha herman
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Finding a pristine shell on a sandy beach is very exciting, but you cannot keep yourself from wondering what kind of shell you have just come across. You want to know which sea creature lived in it before you picked it up and how often these shells are found in this area. You have questions that can only be answered by first finding out the scientific name of this mystery shell.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Computer with Internet access
  • Bowl
  • Bleach
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Find out on which coast the shell was found. This is not critical, but it will help narrow down your search.

  2. 2

    Clean the seashell by placing it in a bowl that contains equal parts water and bleach. The website recommends letting the shell soak until all of the algae and brownish periostracum has detached.

  3. 3

    Place the shell next to your computer so that you can find a picture of an identical shell online. If the shell is from the East Coast, visit The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum website. If your shell is from the West Coast, visit the Google Books website and find a published book entitled "West Coast Shells" by Josiah Keep. If you are unsure which coast the shell came from, visit the "Seashell Identification Guide" website.

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