true tulip seashell

The Big True Tulip Shell I Had to Give Back

While boating around the backwater, looking for some fish to catch, we pulled up to a muddy area covered with about 6 inches of water. While the boys played around with the boat, I walked the flat area in search of seashells. I saw many crown conchs, all of which had hermit crabs moving them around.

When I came to an odd looking thing, and realized it was a sting ray, which are common in these areas. But this one, about a foot in size, wasn’t moving away. He was “watching” me as I approached. It was a little creepy, so I turned and walked back toward the boat.

On my way back, I saw an odd shape in the mud and touched it with my foot (which was inside my water shoes, of course!). It felt hard and I thought it must be a shell that was buried in the sand. I began to hope that it might be a great find.

I reached down and pulled up a big True Tulip shell!  You can see it next to my glasses below, and it measured about 5.5 inches in length.

big true tulip seashell
True Tulip Seashell, Measuring 5.5 inches long

According to my Seashell Book, the True tulip reaches a size of 5 inches max. So this one was a big shell.

(By the way, the photo at the top was of a smaller tulip I found in another spot. I included that picture to show the colors and bands a little better.)
So this was not the first Tulip shell I had found, but I haven’t been able to collect any because they are always occupied by hermit crabs.

This one was buried down under the sand. I saw no sign of life inside the shell. How exciting… I had not only found a Tulip to keep, but it was a huge Tulip! I brought it over to the boat and set it inside to take home.

tulip shell covered with dirt
Top of the Tulip Shell

It was late by the time we got home so I rinsed the shell and set it out on the back patio for overnight. Some time later I looked outside and noticed that the shell was not there. Hmmmm… this could be disappointing.

I found it up next to the house and my suspicions were correct. A HUGE hermit crab was living inside the shell. This happened to me not long ago, when I collected a broken white whelk and it ended up being a hermit crab home too.

So I put the beautiful shell into a bucket and the next morning when we went out on the boat again I put the shell, with the hermit crab inside, back into the water.

I still don’t have a Tulip shell.

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2 thoughts on “The Big True Tulip Shell I Had to Give Back

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