The word seashell is often used to mean only the shell of a marine mollusk. Marine mollusk shells that are familiar to beachcombers and thus most likely to be called “seashells” are the shells of marine species of bivalves (or clams), gastropods (or snails), scaphopods (or tusk shells), polyplacophorans (or chitons), and cephalopods (such as nautilus and spirula). These shells are very often the most commonly encountered, both in the wild, and for sale as decorative objects.
Marine species of gastropods and bivalves are more numerous than land and freshwater species, and the shells are often larger and more robust. The shells of marine species also often have more sculpture and more color, although this is by no means always the case.
In the tropical and sub-tropical areas of the planet, there are far more species of colorful, large, shallow water shelled marine mollusks than there are in the temperate zones and the regions closer to the poles.
Although there are a number of species of shelled mollusks that are quite large, there are vast numbers of extremely small species too, see micromollusks.
Not all mollusks are marine. There are numerous land and freshwater mollusks, see for example snail and freshwater bivalves. In addition, not all mollusks have an external shell: some mollusks such as some cephalopods (squid and octopuses) have an internal shell, and many mollusks have no shell, see for example slug and nudibranch. Read more