The Ultimate Sea Shell Identification Guide

Guide to identifying different types of sea shells

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Are you ready for the ultimate sea shell identification guide?

There are actually around 100,000 shells in the world. I’ll highlight the shells you’ll most likely find at the beach and a few other interesting and beautiful shells.

Would you like a free printable of the most common seashells? Click the button below.

The Ultimate Sea Shell Identification Guide

Conch Shells

Florida Fighting Conch Seashell
Florida Fighting Conch
King's Crown Conch Seashell
King’s Crown Conch
Horse Conch Seashell
Horse Conch
Queen Conch Shell Guide
Queen Conch
Spider Conch Seashell
Spider Conch
Stombus Pacific Conch Seashell
Strombus Pacific Conch
Millipede Conch Seashell
Millipede Conch
Scorpion Spider Conch Seashell
Scorpian Spider Conch
West Indian Chank Conch Seashell
West Indian Chank Conch
Arrow Dwarf Triton Spiral Shell
Triton’s Trumpet Conch
Queen Helmet Shell - Large Shells
Queen Helmet Conch
King Helmet Conch Seashell
King Helmet Conch

Cockle Shells

Giant Atlantic Cockle Seashell
Giant Atlantic Cockle
Yellow Cockle Seashell
Yellow Cockle
Egg Cockle Seashell
Egg Cockle

Clam Shells

Channeled Duck Clam Shell Types of Seashells
Channeled Duck Clam
Calico Clam Shell Identification Guide
Calico Clam
Bittersweet Clam Seashell
Bittersweet Clam
Purple Varnish Clam Shell Identification Picture
Purple Varnish Clam
Butter Clams types of shells
Butter Clam
Softshell-Clam Identification Guide
Softshell Clam
Geoduck Clam Beach Shell
Geoduck Clam
Coquina Clam Shells Identification
Coquina Clam
Cut Ribbed Ark Clam Shell Identification Chart
Cut Ribbed Ark Clam
Ponderous Ark Clam Beach Shells
Ponderous Ark Clam
Southern Quahog Seashell Identification Printable Guide
Southern Quahog Clam
Cross-Barred Venus Clam
Cross-Barred Venus Clam
Atlantic Jackknife Clam Seashell Guide
Atlantic Jackknife Clam
Jingle Shells
Jingle Clam
Warty Venus Clam Shell Identification
Warty Venus Clam
Jewel Box Clam Shell
Jewel Box Clam
Tellin Clam Shell - Seashell Pictures
Tellin Clam
Razor Clam Seashells found at Litchfield Beach in SC
Razor Clam
Angel Wings Clam Seashell
Angel Wing Clam

Scallop Shells

Rough Scallop Shell
Rough Scallop
Calico Scallop Types of shells
Calico Scallop
Queen Scallop Seashell in water at beach
Great Scallop
Kitten's Paw Scallop Seashell
Kitten’s Paw Scallop
Lion's Paw Scallop Seashell
Lion’s Paw Scallop
Ravenel Scallop Seashell
Ravenel Scallop
Irish Baking Scallop Shell
Irish Baking Scallop

Whelk Shells

Lightening Whelk Seashell found at Atlantic Beach NC
Lightening Whelk
Kiener's Whelk Seashell
Kiener’s Whelk
Knobbed Whelk Seashell from Litchfield Beach in South Carolina
Knobbed Whelk

Murex Shells

Ramose Murex Seashell found at Atlantic Beach NC
Ramose Murex
Pink Mouthed Murex Shell Guide
Pink Mouthed Murex
Venus Comb Murex a pretty seashell
Venus Comb Murex
Black Murex Shell Identification Guide
Black Murex

Cowry Shells

Snake Head Cowry Snail Shell
Snake Head Cowry
Tiger Cowry Seashell Guide
Tiger Cowry
Humpback Cowrie Seashell
Humpback Cowry

Volute Shells

Junonia Types of shells
Junonia Volute Shell
Bednall's Volute Seashell
Bednall’s Volute Shell

Tun Shells

Giant Tun Seashell
Imperial Cone Shell
Spotted Tun Seashell
Spotted Tun Shell
Banded Tun Seashell
Banded Tun Shell

Other Seashells

Shark Eye Seashells Found at Litchfield Beach in South Carolina
Moon Shells
Baby's Ear Seashell Guide to identification
Baby’s Ear Shell
Lettered Olive Seashells from South Carolina beach
Lettered Olive Shells
Pen Seashell from Litchfield beach in SC
Pen Shell
Auger Seashells from Litchfield Beach in SC
Auger Shells
Sundial Pretty Shells
Sundial Shell
Mussel Shells on the beach
Mussel Shells
Oyster Shell Guide To Seashells
Oyster Shell
Shark's Eye Seashells on the beach.
Shark’s Eye Seashells
Scotch Bonnet Beach Shell
Scotch Bonnet Shell
Cantharus Shell names
Cantharus Shell
Cerith Seashell Guide to shelling
Cerith Shell
Atlantic Slipper Seashells found at Litchfield Beach in SC
Atlantic Slippers
Worm Shells - sea shell types
Worm Shells
Drill Spiral Shell
Drill Shell
Banded Tulip Shelling Guide
Banded Tulip Shell
Paper Fig Seashell Guide
Paper Fig Shell
Nassa Seashells on the beach
Nassa Shells
Harp Shells on the beach
Harp Shell
rock Snail Shell - types of seashells
Rock Snail Shell
Nautilus Seashell
Chambered Nautilus Shell
Melon Shell Guide
Melon Shell
Common Spirula Seashell
Common Spirula Shells
Lightning Dove Shell Identification Guide
Lightning Dove Shell
Chiton Seashell
Chiton Shell
Ammonite Shell
Ammonite Shell
Wentletrap Shell Names
Wentletrap Shells
Cone Shell
Cone Shell
Keyhole Limpet Seashell - Different Types of Seashells
Keyhole Limpet Shell
Periwinkle - pictures of sea shells
periwinkle Shells
Top Shells
Top Shells
Chesnut Turbin Beach Shells
Turbin Shells
Australian Trumpet Shell - Largest Shell in the world
Trumpet Shell
Spindle Seashell
Spindle Shell

Other Sea Creatures That You May Find At The Beach

Sand Dollar Shell Hunting Guide
Sand Dollar
Star Fish from the beach
Star Fish
Sea Biscuit from the beach.
Sea Biscuit

Read More:

Seashell Identification Guide

Different kinds of shells identification book for beach packing list

Find on→

Seashell Collecting Bag

Seashell Collecting Bag

Find on→

Don’t forget to get your free printable of these shells for your next beach trip!

Here are a few shells I collected on my last shelling trip to Atlantic Beach in North Carolina.

Beautiful seashells from Atlantic Beach

I was able to find a shark eye, baby’s ear, lettered olive, slipper, auger, periwinkle, whelk, jewel box, and a……..

RARE scotch bonnet. I was so excited about this find!

I had so many shells from this trip that I started a shell garden outside.

Shells on the beach

That’s why it’s important to have a shell identification guide.

I wouldn’t have known what a scotch bonnet was or how rare they are unless I had learned about seashells.

If you liked what you read, please PIN IT! 

Types of sea shells guide pinterest
Identifiying Seashells guide pinterest pin

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63 Responses

  1. how do I receive the guides I’ve done alot shelling in the last 37 years. mostly in Florida and the Carolina’s, but don’t have a good guide to identify many of the different shells. I just turned 79 and I don’t get around as much. a guide would really help me identify some of the 75pounds of shells I’ve collected. do you email the guides? thanks

    1. There’s a button you click on that post that will take you to a form where you put in your email address. Once you do that, you’ll be able to access the printable seashell guide. You could also invest in a good shelling identification book. I think I recommend a good one in that post. But I’m sure you could find one from any good bookstore. That’s exciting that you’ve collected that many shells!

  2. Me and my family live towards the center of the country, so driving to the beach means driving for a million hours or so. I live somewhat near Idaho and Oregon. So, what are the best local beaches I can visit?

    1. I am more familiar with beaches on the east coast, but Cannon Beach in Oregon is a gorgeous beach.

  3. Such gorgeous shells! I recently found what I think is a Snake Head Cowry in the Bahamas. I didn’t know what it was until I read your list! I wonder if it’s still valuable? 😉
    I also found an amazingly gorgeous and shiny white olive shell with yellow stripes.. it’s so different from the ones we have on the coast of North Carolina!

    1. That’s so cool that you got to go shelling in the Bahamas! I’m so jealous 🙂 I’ve seen a lot of Snake Head Cowrys for sale on Etsy. Some people also make them into necklaces to sell.

  4. You have a photo that you have listed as bittersweet clam but the shells are actually scallop shells not bittersweet clam shells.

  5. My daughter love to collect shells. I am on search for different species of shells and this is a great help. Thank you.

  6. Very helpful guide thank you! I differ with just one shell on your list. I don’t think those are chestnut turbans (the shells in the picture). I find a lot of them in Honeymoon Island State Park in Florida and they are not pointed at the top. Check it out. Otherwise very helpful – I was trying to find a shell that I found and your post helped! (jackknife).

    1. I’ll take a look at the picture I have for that shell. Thanks for the feedback! I’m glad you found the guide helpful. And thanks for mentioning Honeymoon Island State Park in Florida. I hope to go there soon.

    1. I have a goal to get even more shells on my list. I’ll try to get more tropical shells on there. Thanks for the feedback!

  7. I love seashells so much I bought a beautiful display case with 5 glass shelves to display them. My visitors, guests and family can’t get enough of them, they always ooh and awe over them. I’ve purchased many of the rare ones and they live beside the ones I’ve found on the florida beaches. The short descriptions of the ones covered here are excellent. You’ve done us a marvelous service with the pictures and stories of each one. A big thank you! I’m getting a 5 year old grandson of a neighbor interested in seashells by letting him pick a shell that he is drawn to and telling him a story about it. Makes my 90 yr old mind glow!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing about your seashell collection. It sounds amazing! One of my goals is to visit Florida to collect seashells!

    1. You and I both noticed the same misidentification. However it still shows a scallop shell for a bittersweet clam shell.

  8. Wow this is an amazing guide to identifying shells! It’s so fun to find and collect them. Now there’s an easy way to know what kind of shell you’ve found.

  9. I understand why collectors would want the lightening shell, it’s gorgeous. Oh and the sand dollar, we have them here on the Canadian West Coast, and ours are black when they are alive. I’ve never seen them in any other colour up here, but they are probably much more beautiful in a vibrant colour.

    1. That’s interesting that your sand dollars are black. I’m going to have to look up a picture of that!

  10. Wow what an extensive guide! Seashells are so beautiful. I always try to not take too many because I don’t want to disturb the beaches ecosystem. But I think a little at a time creates such a lovely momento from your trip.

    1. We definitely need to be mindful of the beach ecosystem. Empty shells can be future homes for sea critters. And in some places, it’s illegal to take empty shells.

  11. I had no idea there was so different kind of shells. Love the pictures tu go with the descriptions of each. I will be more careful now and see if I can find rare ones.

    1. I definitely appreciate seashells more now that I can identify them better. The sea world is so amazing!

  12. Wish I had this recently when we were staying in the outer banks for our 25th! Great guide for one of my favorite vacation pastimes!

    1. How nice that you got to stay in the Outer Banks for your anniversary! The Outer Banks are a great place to go shelling.

  13. I remember seeing many of these seashells when we visited the back beaches. Thanks for the shell identification guide as it has bought back those memories of finding them.

    1. It’s really interesting how long sea life can live. And so important to make sure there are no critters still alive in the shells you collect – I’ve learned the hard way 🙂

  14. What a great shell guide and now I know what I need to do when I go visit my granddaughters in North Carolina we def need to take a trip to the beaches. This is a great activity to do with them they will love it. I might have to print off picts and have them match them.

    1. I have a printable that goes with the post. There’s a link somewhere in the post to a 4-page colorful printout of the shells in the post.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. There are about 100,000 shells, but I thought that might be overkill… 🙂

    1. That’s awesome that you’ve found a way to keep the shells you’ve collected. They are a great way to remember beach trips.

  15. I will definitely be back to this post the next time I find an interesting seashell. My favorite one you posted is the sundial!

    1. I’ve really enjoyed getting into collecting and identifying shells. There are even seashell collecting clubs you can join.

  16. This is an awesome shell guide! I learned sooo much!! Will definitely add another dimension to my daughters collection! Now she can identify what she has!

    1. I’m so glad you liked it. There are even more shells than what I have here, but these are most of the common ones, and I had to stop somewhere….

  17. This is such an amazing shell guide! I love learning about all the different seashell names! Great Post!

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