The Helmet seashells can be Kings or Queens, but surprisingly, the Queen Helmet (photo at Flickr) is larger. It’s scientific name is Cassis madagascariensis, which includes the word “madagascar”, the name given over 100 years ago when it was thought (incorrectly) that the shell was found on the island of Madagascar.
It is not easy to find a Queen Helmet, which is also known as an Emperor Helmet, as the populations are low, but it lives in shallow sandy water and on coral reefs to 30 feet deep. In Florida, it is most often found in the Florida Keys. They eat sea urchins and sand dollars.
The shell can be 12-14 inches long and has a wide opening with markings that resemble teeth. The shell is chunky, lightly colored except for the opening which is a pretty yellow-tan.
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8 thoughts on “The Beautiful Queen (Emperor) Helmet Shell”
Hi Pam, I’m a novice and found a couple what seem to be juvenile Queen Helmets on the beach at Cape San Blas, FL. I conferred with the Sanibel Museum and they said, yes it was a young
I understand they are not that common from a beach searcher’s perspective. Can you confirm that?
Many Thanks, Matt Orsie – Hedgesville, WV
Hi Matt, I don’t know much about the helmets as the ones I have were given to me. I don’t know if the owner found them or bought them, but I suspect bought. I’ve never seen a helmet while out on the beach / boat in my area. I have no idea if they are commonly found in the area of Florida where you found yours. Still, I would consider it a wonderful find! Were you able to collect them?
Pam, Yes, I have two juveniles as they are more apt to show up on a beach than the bigger ones. They were not alive so I have them. Here’s a photo of the larger one:
Wow, thanks for sharing those photos. They are beautiful! I’d say you are lucky to have them, and what an eye to find them on the beach! Congrats…!! I might need to head to north Florida and do some beachcombing 😉
How do I get it out of its shell?
You shouldn’t collect shells that have a living creature inside. If you found a dead one, and want to remove the mollusk, I really don’t know. I only collect shells that are empty.
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Overall it is good information. I am doing a school project and just need to know the reproduction methods of this exquisite sea creature.