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I would like to know if there's any difference between 貝 and 貝殻, and if these words are interchangeable.

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貝 has several meanings but usually it refers to the shellfish as an animal.
貝殻 means only the shell.

かい【貝】貝殻をもつ軟体動物。ハマグリなどの二枚貝、サザエなどの巻き貝、ツノガイなどの掘足類を主にいう。
https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/jn/35183/meaning/m1u/貝/

かいがら【貝殻】貝の軟体を外側から包む石灰質などからなる硬い物質。
https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/jn/35485/meaning/m1u/貝殻/

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  • So, for example, "picking up shells on the beach" would be 貝殻を拾う, and 貝 means "mollusk (with shell)" rather than "shell" (海松貝という貝 = a mollusk called mirugai), doesn't it?
    – Rick
    Sep 29, 2018 at 16:44

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