Pink Crown Conch At The Hermit Crab Party

Florida sea life gathering of hermit crabs in colorful seashells out in the wild.

Finally, we got out on the boat to do some sight-seeing, beach-combing, and fishing. Our travels took us south toward Mosquito Lagoon, where we spotted many manatees. We did some island hopping and ended up on a sandy beach just off the ICW. This is where I came across the hermit crab party. A gathering of pretty shells were crawling all over a little rock in shallow water near the beach.

As I strolled along the beach, I wished I had carried the camera with me. When I don’t have it, I see amazing things, of course!

As I was nearly ready to turn back, I saw this cluster of shells up on a rock (probably coquina rock) and it appeared that the hermit crabs were fighting over a shark’s eye shell which was on the very top of the rock.

By the time I went and got the camera and came back, the shark’s eye shell was nowhere to be seen. But a gorgeous pink crown conch caught my eye.

Usually the crown conch has brownish stripes, but this one had stripes of pink and lavender!  I have not touched up my photo below.  That is the real color of the shells.  What a treat to find such a beauty….!  I did not collect it because it was home to a crab.

I liked this photo so much that I made it into a square poster, which is for sale in my Zazzle store.

tropical seashells in the wild
Group of shells (with hermit crabs inside)

There are 5 seashells in my photo; 2 pear whelks, 2 crown conchs, and a big tulip shell underwater. Wish I’d taken a photo of that big shell, but there was a hermit crab in it so I didn’t want to mess with it.

I didn’t touch the “rock” but I assume it is a chunk of coquina covered in seaweed or sea grass, and the usual slime.  You can see the barnacles on top as well.

The water was warm – too warm. The idea is to cool off on a hot Florida day, but dunking into the river is like sitting in a lukewarm bathtub. The sea water temperature was 85 degrees.

I always wish I had taken more photos, but keeping the iPhone out is dangerous around the water, and the baking sun isn’t good for it either.  And did I mention that it was hot?!

Hermit crab gathering

We caught some fish too, but then the clouds moved in and built into big thunderheads, so we had to go home.

boat river clouds
Clouds building over the land means thunderstorms are coming


About the Little Pear Whelk Seashell

Photos and info about the Pear whelk, or Fig whelk, seashell which I find regularly when out on the boat.

Pear whelks (Busycotypus spiratus) are cute little seashells and they can be colorful. They resemble the lightning whelk, before it grows big. But the Pear whelk has it’s opening on the right side, like most gastropods.  This one is also called a Fig whelk and it’s max length is 5.5 inches.  In Florida it is common along any shoreline.

In this first photo you can see the operculum (trap door) which is a hard piece that closes the mollusk up inside it’s home.  The snail is beginning to come out of the shell because I picked it up from the shelly bottom where he had been resting quietly.

I expected to see a hermit crab inside, and was delighted to see the creature who made the shell instead.  This water is very shallow as you can probably tell, so he was living close to shore.  I snapped this shot and put him back down without bothering him further.

pear whelk mollusk
Living Pear Whelk With Mollusk

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Above: Found this pear whelk while walking along a deserted beach in the backwater area of the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway). I’m guessing they prefer the calmer waters near the islands and that is why I never find them along the ocean beach.

In the photo below you can see how shells can look in the wild. They are not all that pretty when covered in mud and slime. I knew the type by the shape of the shell.  Yup, hermit crab inside.

Slime covered Pear Whelk Shell

I’ve never collected one of these shells because every one I’ve encountered (except for the live one in my first photo on this page) has been inhabited by a hermit crab! The shells are small and easy to carry on the back of the crab.

yellow pear whelk seashell
Pretty yellow shell

I just loved the pretty yellow color of this Pear. It stood out among the muddy bottom. It was moving along on the back of it’s new owner. Can you guess? Haha!

Below you can see the crab peeking out.  This is what I often encounter.  I think there are more hermit crabs in my area than there are seashells!

pear whelk seashell
Pear whelk seashell with hermit crab inside

Small shells like these are not the only place you will find hermit crabs. I recently pulled up a beautiful big knobbed whelk with such an owner.

Real Live Lightning Whelk Mollusk

A living lightning whelk with a pretty shell gave me some nice photos to take home.

The lightning whelk seashell is one of my favorites, with it’s stripes and long shell opening. It can grow to quite a big shell also. I have seen many of these shells, and have some in my collection, but this is the first time I have found a live mollusk inside a lightning whelk shell.

I have a little video below where you can see it moving along the sand.

lightning whelk shell
Living Lightning Whelk

This shell had a particularly white spire – top swirl – which was quite unqiue. Instead of finding a hermit crab dangling his legs out of the opening, I saw the snail! Honestly, I didn’t expect that when I saw the shell moving around on the soft sand of the river bottom. Once the snail dies, I’m betting a hermit will move in. I may come across this shell again on my adventures.
lightning whelk mollusk shell
This is one of the whelks found in Florida.
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