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Sea Shells

Sea shells do not really need an introduction. These are softbodied animals that are equipped by nature to build for themselves protective shells out of calcium carbonate. These wonderful marine animals and their equally beautiful shells have fascinated humankind for centuries, and have always been a part of human civilisation in some way or the other. Shells have been used as a currency, as a source of low-cost protein and in poultry food; they’ve been turned into souvenirs and jewellery; they have been prized for the pearls and mother of pearl they yield; they have been a rich source of calcium, and an ingredient in traditional medicines like Ayurveda and Unani; at times, they have been a symbol of worship. Shells have provided livelihood and nutrition to millions of people world over. They even form a part of our lore, with several mythical stories featuring giant octopuses, squids, giant clams and cowries.

Searching for sea shells on seashores is a skill which gets honed through experience. For a beginner, however, rock pools are the best place to start. During low tide, water remains among the rocks, forming rock pools where many species of sea shells can be easily seen.

Nassarius (Alectrion) glans glansGyrineum natator

Nassarius glans glans                                                           Gyrineum natator

Gutturnium muricinumMitra (Mitra) mitra

Gutturnium muricinum                                                            Mitra (Mitra) mitra

Cypraea tigrisConus tulipa

Cypraea tigris                                                                          Conus tulipa

 

For common marine gastropods, get my new book ‘Sea Shells of India: An Illustrated Guide to Common Gastropods’. The book illustrates about 450 common gastropod shells in colour.

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