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For many people, seashells are just part of the beach scenery--thousands of pretty but nameless objects strewn along the shore. Other people know the names of shells but often wonder how they were formed and what type of animal lived inside. Such incidental knowledge may not seem important, but it can encourage people to observe their environment more closely and to gain a better understanding of it. As a result, they may become better fishers, more informed teachers or more conscientious stewards of our coast. To this end, the seashell guide was produced.
Many collectors get started when they find an intriguing shell, perhaps after a storm, and search for it in a guide. Others, by chance, meet an experienced sheller on the beach. Talking with a collector passionate about shells is likely to spark an interest in anyone who has spent time at the coast.
A walk down the beach is never the same once you begin to recognize a few shells. Gradually, you learn to use certain marks to solve the puzzle of shell identification. The walk becomes more satisfying as you recognize familiar shells like old friends, and it becomes more exciting as you look for new ones.