The Whelk shells of Florida are widely collected and they can be some of the largest shells you’ll find on Florida beaches. (Don’t collect them if they are inhabited.)
The Knobbed Whelk (Busycon carica), Channeled Whelk (Busycon canaliculatum), Pear Whelk (Busycon spiratum) and Lightning Whelk (Busycon contrarium) can all be quite large – the Pear is the smallest. Common characteristics include their long shape with a wide opening down the length of the shell.
Of these four, the Pear Whelk is the smallest when full grown. It grows to a length of 5 1/2 inches. I have come across pear whelks out on the sandy flats while boating. I’ve seen them as yellow, gray and with brown splotches. They are usually inhabited by hermit crabs. Then I recently found one with a live snail inside. (2nd photo)
The Lightning Whelk is another one I find often in the backwater areas. It’s usually small like the pear whelk, but this one can grow to be 16 inches long. It is recognizable by it’s left-side opening.
This is a fairly new photo of the knobbed whelk. I discovered it in January just offshore on an island in the Indian River backwater. A hermit crab was living inside, so I got some photos and returned it to the water.
The channeled whelk is not a shell I have found in one piece. It grows to be 7.5 inches in length. The top spiral part of the shell differs from the other whelks because it looks extended, like someone pulled it out. The whorls on the other shells are tight and semi-flat.
This is the only channeled whelk I have found and even though it was very broken it turned out there was a hermit crab living in it! I had to take it back and return it to the water.
The Channeled whelk only lives along the northeastern coast of Florida to about halfway down the state. I guess that explains why I don’t see many of this kind of shell.
Last September I had a good day out on the boat. Low tide offered some interesting sea life finds. I was so excited by getting a really good hermit crab video, that I neglected to write about another aspect of the trip. I took a long walk across the muddy flats to inspect a large […]Read More…
In October some friends came to visit and we went fishing on the Indian River. The water was exceptionally clear that day and we could easily see manatees near the boat. We all enjoyed the beautiful weather and the fishing was pretty good. Where is the Indian River? I often write about being out on […]Read More…
I took this video of a little beach spider back in October during a walk along the beach. At least it looks like a spider. It could be a tiny crab, but it has eight legs that look more like spider than crab. As I slowly combed the sand for seashells, I noticed this tiny […]Read More…