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Conch Shells

Conch shells are used as musical instruments in Japan, Korea, Tibet, Nepal, parts of Africa, Hawaii, and elsewhere. After the animal is removed from its shell, the tip of the spine is cut off to make a mouth piece although holes are sometimes put in the side for side-blown conchs. A buzzing-lip trumpet technique is used to produce a sound and the pitch can be altered by over-blowing or inserting the hand into the shell. As a musical instrument, the most commonly used type of conch (a kind of sea snail) is the pink conch (Strombus gigas - not pictured). Pictured above in the upper left and center are a pair of horse conch (Pleuroploca gigantea - top 18" and center 9"). On the upper right is a rare left-coiled channel whelk (Busycon canaliculatum), only 1 in 10,000 shells coil to the left. On the bottom is a pair of triton conch (Charonia tritonis).

 

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