Shells Found on a Deserted Beach

Found lots of knobbed whelks on this deserted island beach in Mosquito Lagoon. And a few other pretty shells.

A Trip by Water

I wrote a post about our trip down to this island on a previous post, “A Beach All Our Own”.

Now I want to share some photos of the shells we found on this deserted beach.

The water was very clear right near shore. The darker part is where the grass is growing.

The Island Beach

We, my son, daughter and me, visited this Spoil Island in October, after Hurricane Ian, which hit our area the end of September. It is likely that many of the shells we saw had been uncovered by the waves. The beach erosion, and tree in the water, was most likely from that storm.

Shells We Found

I’ve never found so many knobbed whelks in one place. In fact, I rarely find knobbed whelks on our normal boating trips. But this island had many. None were in perfect condition, but they were also empty, so I collected a few.

There were hermit crabs on this island. The crown conch and tulip shell (pictured below) both contained hermits, so I got photos and left them alone. A hermit crab would need to be quite large to live in, and carry, a heavy knobbed whelk shell.

The angel wing shell is encrusted with hard sand that doesn’t come off. Quite a few of the shells and pieces are a pretty pink-orange color, and a few were yellow.

The two gray scallop shells are very interesting as they differ in appearance.

Finding the Creepy Face

My daughter was beach combing at the front of the islands on the rocks, and called me over. As she went to hand the shell (face) to me, it fell on the ground. Because she dropped it, we thought it didn’t want to come with us. I brought it home anyway and it’s in my garden. I was going to sneak it into her suitcase to creep her out when she got home and unpacked. But I like it too much and wanted to keep it. The Face is now watching over my raised bed garden.

face in a shell
The creepy face

Thanks for reading!

Quiet Day On The Boat

A hot and beautiful day on the boat took us to a remote river island, a stop in the ocean, and then to Ponce Inlet.

Pretty Gray Banded Tulip Shell

A quick little share of this pretty gray banded tulip shell found on a recent boating trip. Read more shelling stories on the blog

Early Boating Day to Beat the Thunderheads

We’ve been getting rain like a monsoon lately but finally we got in an early day of boating to beat the thunderheads. We were on the water by ten in the morning, which is early for us. My son is not an early riser. With the chance of rain nearly always possible, we hoped to get a few hours in.

After riding around for a bit my son dropped me at an island beach while he went across the river to fish.

island view
The Island

Today the place was deserted. It was a Thursday so not surprising. I walked the beach looking for treasure in the form of seashells but found nothing – except for the one broken and partially buried shell right in front of the boat landing.

broken knobbed whelk treasure buried in the sand
Broken knobbed whelk shell

Most people would probably pass on collecting this shell, but I rarely find shells this size, even if they are broken. I’ve never found a live knobbed whelk snail. In fact, knobbed whelk shells in any form are a rare find here.

This marine snail makes a beautiful shell, and I found a stunning specimen a while ago just off this very island, in roughly the same place. It contained a big hermit crab, but I got some photos before putting it back into the water. That shell was tan in color with a shiny exterior. It is still one of my favorite finds.

The knobbed whelk is a hefty shell so this one had done a lot of rolling around in the water to break it up or possibly it was broken by a boat. Boats often pull up to this island. There was absolutely no place for a hermit crab to hide inside. I brought it home and cleaned it up.

The tide was going out but the water was very murky and brown. It was not at all inviting. The beach held no other treasures so I texted my son and he came back to pick me up and we moved on.

Encrusted Horse Conch

We headed into a little bay area that has a lot of shallow spots. I was looking for a place to get out and dip into the 83 degree water to cool off a bit. We pulled up to this little beach area.

Little beach
Little beach where I found the horse conch shell

I hopped off the boat here only to see a nice size, yet juvenile, horse conch shell moving along the bottom. I t had a hermit crab inside, but I got some photos of this beauty. The sand was very soft and sucked at my feet, so not a good place to take a dip. We moved on into Oyster Bay.

Into the Bay

Heading a little further into the backwaters there is a big shallow area. Here the water was only a foot or two deep. We were able to get out and float while keeping hold of the boat so it didn’t drift away. As I mentioned the water was pretty brown and I mostly worry about stingrays.

shallow area where we got out to swim

I think this area of the lagoon is called Oyster Bay because it is very shallow with lots of oyster beds. Oyster shells are very sharp and can harm boats. It’s also easy to get a fishing line caught on the shells, so we don’t go in here much. I did find a huge, living horse conch in this area one time.

We’d been keeping an eye on the sky all day because the line of clouds over land and over the ocean could build and move in our direction.

Keeping an Eye on The Clouds

We made it in before the storm reached us, but you never know. Florida storms can have lots of lightning so we don’t take any chances. We had a good four hours out on the water, which was nice.

Amazingly Detailed Spire of the Channeled Whelk

Some days spent out on the water can be so worth it. When I found this little channeled whelk on an island beach, it made my day….!

I took loads of photos to capture the memory, and decided to share some of them here.

This is not a shell I see regularly in my area, and of course it was inhabited by a hermit crab, so I couldn’t collect it. The channeled whelks I have seen are always broken or old or identified incorrectly. Like I said, I don’t see them much.

little channeled whelk seashells
Pretty channeled whelk

Those bumps around the raised spire are fascinating and really beautiful. It is described this way, “A pear shaped snail shell with deep channels between the whorls”. To me, it looks like a layer cake. Maybe I am just hungry.

Between the sunny coloring and the dotted border of the whorls, I was mesmerized by this little, broken shell.

small channeled whelk
Although this shell is broken, it’s beautifully made

Mitchell Publications has a photo of various Channeled Whelks and it brought to mind a shell I found a while ago and couldn’t name. It was a small gray shell with a little “dot” on top. I probably labeled it as a pear whelk.

Below is a very old and worn channeled whelk. You can barely make out the bumps along the whorls at the top. This majorly broken shell actually was home to a hermit crab. I had collected it not knowing, because those crabs can tuck themselves way up inside the tiniest of spaces. I had to drive back over to the water (fortunately not too far) and put it back!

large broken whelk shell
White and broken channeled whelk shell remains

I don’t think I have a channeled whelk in my seashell collection. The little yellow one was discovered on the same day I encountered the creepy spider crab.

Facts About the Channeled Whelk

  • The Channeled whelk (Busycon canaliculatum or Busycotypus canaliculatus) mollusk feeds on oysters and clams.
  • They are eaten by blue crabs.
  • It can be found along the eastern United States, from Cape Cod to northern Florida. I live on the coast near the middle of Florida, so it could be why I don’t see that many.
  • Size can be up to 8 inches.
  • Coloring can be gray, tan, yellow, or white (albino)

Shells That Are Similar to the Channeled Whelk

The shell below is a Knobbed Whelk and although it is similar to the Channeled Whelk, the bumps are larger and spaced apart. The top is flatter, as the top of the Channeled whelk looks “pulled up”.

This shell is the gorgeous one that “got away”. A big hermit crab was living inside so I took photos and put it back in the water.

knobbed whelk
A beautiful knobbed whelk found in the Indian River

If you look at the knobbed whelks in my photo below, you will understand why I was so excited to find the whelk pictured above. It was a vast improvement on what I usually see! By the way, the “white” shells here are bleached by the sun and weather. Their beautiful original coloring has faded. The shell on the left is a Horse Conch.

old worn conch and whelk shells
Worn horse conch and two broken knobbed whelks

Pear Whelks and Crown Conchs

Below are some Pear Whelks and a couple of Crown Conchs in the center. The pear whelk is smoother than the channeled species and the crown conch has spiked ridges.

Pear whelks

The Lightning Whelk

The Lightning whelk really cannot be mistaken for a Channeled whelk, unless it is an old and worn shell. Even so, the Lightning whelk has it’s opening on the left side – and that makes it unique. It contains “bumps” and a bit of a spire, but really, I think they are easy to tell apart.

lightning whelk
The Left-Handed Lightning Whelk

Below is what I believe to be a piece of a lightning whelk. I find many black shells around Ponce Inlet, and if you wonder how shells become black, please read my post.

black seashell
Black Lightning Whelk

The channeled whelk shell is a true beauty. I feel fortunate to have found it. Now, in it’s “second life”, it is still useful as a home to the hermit crabs in this area.