At an island beach near the Ponce Inlet, on the central East coast of Florida, I discovered two of my favorite shells in shallow water. This is an area without many people (at least not when we visited) and whenever we visit I find some cool things. This day was no exception when I saw an Olive shell next to a Fighting Conch.
Olive shells are too tightly wound for hermit crabs to inhabit, so if it was empty I could collect it. I reached down and rolled it and knew right away it was living. You can see the snail in the photo below.
The Fighting Conch was also alive and I saw the orange body as soon as I picked it up.
Fighting conch shells can be beautiful colors having purple and maroon in the shell. This one was more brown and looks a bit broken along the edge. Both the Lettered Olive and Fighting Conch are easier to find on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Here on the eastern side I seldom come across them.
The Florida Fighting Conch (Strombus alatus) has a thick shell. Once I picked this one up he began to reach for the sand and came right out of the shell for me to see! I took quick photos and put him back so as not to stress him out.
After looking around online, those two thin appendages are its eyes. As for the rest, I’m not sure. Isn’t that orange color gorgeous? The horse conch is also bright orange.
The reason you won’t find nice shells like this on the ocean beach is that the mollusks like to live in calmer water where they have a food supply of algae and detritus.
In the same area I also found a living crown conch and watched as it crawled across the sand using it’s whitish foot.