Found a Big Horse Conch to Take Home

florida horse conch shell
horse conch big seashell
Horse Conch

Yesterday, while walking the low tide sands around Three Sisters Islands, I came across a big seashell that was empty! I saw a lot of nice crown conchs, small pear whelks, and a nice big sharks eye shell, but all were occupied by hermit crabs. Until I saw the horse conch, all I had collected were bivalves, which were filled with sand, and not living creatures.

I found a giant Atlantic cockle which is joined, so I have two perfect, connected halves, and a pretty flat white shell which I believe is a dosinia.

Dosinia shell

We piled into the Gheenoe – three of us – which was a tight fit, and headed out in the heat to do some fishing and island hopping. Being the middle of the week, we had the river pretty much to ourselves. Since the tide was just beginning to come in, there was plenty of exposed sand to explore.

The only types of shells that are abundant are the clumps of oysters which are the bane of boaters. So finding some collectable shells means searching. It was a 95 degree day (actually cooler than what we’ve been having), and even the water was hot – yes, like a hot tub – but I shuffled around the edges of the island in search of something good that was close enough to see and reach.

The water was brown and it was hard to tell what was out there, but I could see the occasional stingray (hence the shuffling of my feet). I also wore my water shoes.

I had been exploring one area while the boys were exploring and fishing across from me. The tide was coming in faster than I realized and we were getting separated by a “river”. My younger son called over to tell me he had found a starfish, so I made my way across the “river”, phone (camera) in hand (please don’t drop it). That’s when the big horse conch, just lying in the sand, caught my attention.

This is the area where I found the big empty horse conch shell

The sea star (starfish) he was holding was tiny and living, so I told him to put it back in the water. Then I asked about the horse conch. I assumed there was something inside. He said he didn’t think so, and I went to check. Sure enough it seemed empty. It was lying in the sand, away from the water.

All the hermit crab infested shells were moving, and in the shallow water. There was no conch inside the big shell either, or it wouldn’t have been baking on the sand. It certainly looked empty and collectible…. I tried not to get my hopes up.

The boys thought I wouldn’t want the shell because it was black and encrusted with barnacles, but YA, I wanted it!

Now I will have to figure out if I can clean it up.

Author: Pam

Spending time on the water is the best, and blogging about the sea life found along the saltwater river and ocean is what I do. I’m also a designer at Zazzle and sell my work, with a lot of ocean themes, on the site.

5 thoughts on “Found a Big Horse Conch to Take Home”

  1. I was worried that there may be something still inside the shell even though I rinsed it out in the ocean and watched for any signs of movement. It was so hot that I think whatever may have been in there (if anything) was probably cooked! Now I have to try to clean it without destroying the natural color of the shell. I’ll try the diluted bleach route and see what happens. Thanks for sharing your shell-finding story. Congrats on the find!

  2. Yeah! When on Sanibel in Feb we came across a bunch of living horse conch, but found 2 empty. One shell was intact, the other part of the shell missing – but even with the missing part it looked unique as you could see the spiral inside. The intact one was black but not as black as yours. I soaked mine in diluted bleach and the black eventually came off.

    On our 10 hour drive home, there began a terrible stink in the trunk. Turned out there was a small piece (1-2 inch) of animal tissue deep in the conch. I knew something had to be in there due to the stink, but could not see anything nor reach anything with a tool. I used my garden hose on high water pressure, and finally out came the little piece.

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