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Posted by on May 8, 2016 in Tell Me Why |

Why Do We Hear the Sound of the Sea in a Seashell?

Why Do We Hear the Sound of the Sea in a Seashell?

Perhaps you have had the fun of holding an empty seashell close to your ear and imagining that you heard the sound of a roaring sea. Of course, the sound you heard wasn’t really the noise of the waves.

The sounds we hear in a seashell come from the many sounds that are always being made around us. Because of its hollow shape, a seashell picks up the sounds around us. The sounds bounce back and forth between the smooth inside surfaces of the shell so that, altogether, they make a faint rumbling noise that reminds us of the sounds of a distant sea.

Scientists call this ambient noise. The seashell captures the ambient noise, which then resonates inside the shell. Depending upon the size and type of shell you listen to, different frequencies of sound will be echoed back to your ear. This leads to different shells making different “ocean” sounds. The best shells are large, spiral conch shells.

Content for this question contributed by Caroline Riendeau, resident of Springfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts, USA