Seashell Photo ID, Florida East Coast

boat at backwater island

Here are my photos of the shells I’ve come across while traveling the beaches and rivers of Florida’s East Coast. My beachcombing is mostly done in the backwaters of the Indian River in Florida, Mosquito Lagoon area, which is saltwater. I also visit the ocean beach and often find interesting shells and broken things at Ponce Inlet in New Smyrna Beach.

This page of my photography is of the most common seashells I see – some more common than others. Most shells I find are inhabited, by either the snail, or a hermit crab. In that case, I get photos and leave the shell where I found it.

Partial seashell pieces of the knobbed whelk

Knobbed Whelks

(Busycon carica) are wide and thick with spaced points at the top of the whorl. Usually I only find pieces of this shell. Then, one day I came across this tan beauty! A big hermit crab had taken up residence so after the photo shoot, it went back into the water where I found it.

huge horse conch seashell
The largest I’ve found is 17 inches long.
juvenile horse conch seashell
Baby horse conch

Florida Horse Conch

horse conch

(Triplofusus giganteus) is the largest snail in North America and is Florida’s state shell. The living snail is bright orange.

The spire differs between bumpy and smooth but it is always elongated.

Crusty horse conch living on flats
Horse conch in mud
living horse conch
Horse Conch snail

The mature horse conch can be two feet long! Most often I find small specimens of this shell, which always contain hermit crabs. The larger, living whelk’s habitat is in shallow water with a sandy bottom in calm areas of the saltwater river.

large horse conch shell
A friend of my sons found this huge, empty horse conch buried deep in the mud.

two seashells
Crown conch and lightning whelk
lightning whelk
Under shallow water
lightning whelk mollusk shell
Lightning Whelk snail

Lightning Whelk

(Busycon sinistrum) is known for it’s left side opening. The whorl spirals left, not right as most shells.

lightning whelk

The Lightning Whelk usually has beautiful brown coloring in streaks, hence it’s name.

This shell can be quite long, but the ones I see are about this size.

Beautiful shark's eye seashell
Shark’s Eye
Shark's eye with blue center
Blue eye center on the Shark’s Eye shell
Shark's eye seashell bottom
Sharks eye bottom

Shark’s Eye

(Neverita duplicata)

A pretty round, brownish shell with a center, blueish “eye”. Can be up to around 3 inches.

Sand collar – where babies grow
mud covered round sharks eye seashell
Mud encased
sharks eye with hermit crab
Hermit crab inside

The Shark’s eye lays eggs mixed with sand to create a rubbery round disk. When I first found one of these, I thought it was someone’s trash! The shape ensures that they stay upright in one place until the baby Shark Eyes hatch.

Pear whelk
pear whelk seashell
Striped hermit crab
Hermit in Pear

Pear Whelk

(Busycotypus spiratus)

Similar in appearance to the Lightning Whelk, but with the opening on the right.

yellow pear whelk seashell
live pear whelk
Living pear whelk

little channeled whelk seashells
Pretty channeled whelk
Top of the channeled whelk

Channeled Whelk

(Busycotypus canaliculatus)The channeled whelk has little bumps around the spire. I rarely find them.

crown conch seashell
living crown conch on stick
Two living crown conchs
Living crown conchs
crown shell and mollusk inside

Crown Conchs

(Melongena corona)

Larger shells are easily identifiable by the pointy ridges along the top and a row around the bottom. The crown conch can have beautiful stripes and coloring.

large crown conch
Very large 6 inch shell – about the max for this shell
crown conch seashell
Crown Conch with Great Big Spikes

florida fighting conch and mollusk
broken fighting conch
Broken shell home to a hermit crab
living fighting conch mollusk
The snail

Florida Fighting Conchs

(Strombus alatus)

A thick, chunky shell with shorter, knobby spire. Think, short and wide. I don’t see these shells very often.

Florida Fighting Conch
living fighting conch mollusk

Pretty banded tulip shell
Banded Tulip
Pretty banded tulip seashell
Another view – aperture
living tulip shell
True Tulip, alive with snail, 7 inches?

Tulip Shells

Banded tulips (Fasciolaria ilium) have horizontal lines, such as the photos on the left. True tulips (Fasciolaria tulip) have an overall blotchiness. The tulips are Spindle shells which include the Horse Conch. They have long tops, or spires.

big true tulip seashell
True Tulip – 5.5 inches
hermit crab in the wild
Hermit crab in a tulip shell

Dosinia clam shells in all sizes
Dosinia seashells
disc dosinia seashells
Disc Dosinia Seashells


(Dosinia discus)

The Dosinia is a type of clam which is quite flat compared to other clams. I’ve found them in many sizes and they will grow to be around 3 inches. I have found this shell on ocean beaches as well as island sand.

blue seashells

Arks and Cockles

Bivalves which are commonly found on the ocean beaches. They can come in many colors, and have noticeable ribs.

bowl full of ark shells
Ark shells can be colorful
transverse ark shells
Transverse Arks (Anadara transversa)

Large round platter full of seashells from my collection
Part of my shell collection

This is not a comprehensive list, and most shells I photograph were found far from an ocean beach, but in the calmer river waters and little island beaches scattered throughout the marshy backwaters. I never collect any shells that have a living creature inside. It’s easy to see the living mollusk, but hermit crabs can easy tuck themselves way inside and make a shell seem to be empty. After bringing a couple of hermit crabs back home accidentally (and having to drive back to the water to return the shell) I now do not collect any gastropods, or one piece shell unless they are too small for hermits to inhabit (olive shells), or too large (big horse conchs).

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