Identifying Pieces of Seashells Found on the Beach

Often I will pick up interesting pieces of seashells while beach-combing.  I’m getting better at identifying the pieces.  The more variety of shells I collect, the easier it becomes.  If the bit of shell baffles me at the seashore, I search it out in my favorite seashell book, or look through my seashell collection.

Seashells break for many reasons and some shells are more fragile than others.  The Channeled duck clam is thin and most of them are broken on top.  (It’s the white shell in the left-hand photo below.)

Usually it’s the surf and wave action that tumbles the shell until it breaks.  Birds can be the culprits too.  Whatever the reason, it can challenge the mind to picture bits as whole shells.  Usually I am sorry I missed seeing it as a whole, beautiful specimen.

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 12.19.10 PM

While visiting Ponce Inlet, I brought home this large, smooth, brown bit of shell, and a smaller piece like it.  I wondered what it could have been originally.

As I searched through pictures, it suddenly dawned on me. It must be part of a Shark’s Eye. They are smooth and brownish and can be fairly large.

I’ve found whole Shark’s eye shells out on the river quite a few times and I have a few in my collection. I think the best one I have came from the Gulf Coast, Sanibel Island area.

sharks eye and crown conch
A whole Shark’s Eye next to a Crown Conch

This broken bit with deep ridges had me curious for quite a while. After looking through my recently collected shells, I had an “Ah ha” moment. It’s the top section of an Angelwing shell.

angelwing seashells
Angelwings, these are about 5 inches in length, their max length is 6.7 inches – The ones I find are always broken

As I’ve said, I am getting better at figuring out what I collect. Sometimes I remain stumped. The little porous piece below is not a shell, but I am not sure if it’s a piece of coral or something else.  Often I have to search through my seashell book, like the time I found a round, smooth object and had no idea what it was.   It’s the only sea bean I have.

unknown item found on beach
Unknown Item – Coral?

I’ve found lots of Giant Cockle shells – usually when we are in the backwater areas fishing off our boat. When the tide is low, these big heavy duty shells are usually partially buried in the sand.

inside the giant cockle shell
Once cleaned up, the inside of the giant cockle is mauve pink.
Center: Petty worn piece of a giant cockle, or something else?


Author: Pam

Spending time on the water is the best, and blogging about the sea life found along the saltwater river and ocean is what I do. I’m also a designer at Zazzle and sell my work, with a lot of ocean themes, on the site.

7 thoughts on “Identifying Pieces of Seashells Found on the Beach”

  1. The porous piece you were talking about is a broken barnicle.

  2. Like a real life jigsaw puzzle 🙂 I have never really thought about those broken bits n pieces before, and how they fitted. Now you have made me think twice about them I will look out for them more next time I am on the coast. What a beautiful collection you have there 🙂

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