The Alphabet Cone Shell

Lamarck - Conus Plate 318
Image by WikiMechanics via Flickr

Cone shells are fairly small shells that are shaped like – can you imagine? – a cone.  Think of a pointed ice cream cone – a sugar cone – without an opening for the ice cream.  Instead you will see a tight, fairly flattened spiral.

They can be found all along the coast of Florida and over to Mexico. Other types of cone shells can be found in tropical waters from the Carolinas to the Indian and western Pacific oceans. The mollusk uses poison to kill it’s prey and in the larger species it can be fatal. Always be careful when handling live cones, although here in the US we don’t have the large ones.

The outside of the Alphabet cone (Conus spurius atlanticus)- scroll down the page at to see his collection – is smooth with reddish brown or orange to yellow spots in irregular shapes.  These shells are not exceptionally large and only grow to about 3 inches (7.6 cm) long, but they have the most interesting patterns on the outside of the shell.  In fact there is a man who has collected the “alphabet” in cones – read about him here.

The Alphabet on Cone Shells

Harlan Wittkopf has had 35 years to find cone shells on the beaches of Sanibel Island and he has quite a nice collection of Alphabet cones. 

In fact, his collection is so extensive (alphabet cones are fairly rare) that he can spell out the alphabet with markings on his cone shells.   He also has shells containing the numbers 1-12.   Some are very clear to see and others need a bit more imagination, but I find this collection to be very interesting.

He has put together a brochure for the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum on Sanibel Island with photos of his shells. This brochure was made with kids in mind as an educational tool and the brochure is handed out to kids who visit the museum and even kids in the classrooms who order the Shell Museum School Collection Kit.

See the alphabet cone shell collection on this pdf file of the brochure

Read about Mr. Wittkopf’s fascination with the Alphabet Cone here.

~ Check out this page if you just can’t get enough of Cone Shells! ~

Seashell ID: The Strawberry Conch

Here is your seashell lesson for the day.

This shell is one of my most interesting of my “Gastropods” or shells in one piece… interesting to me anyway because of the pretty color inside. I just recently discovered that it’s called a Strawberry Conch. However the picture I found online doesn’t look exactly like mine.  Mine has the brown splotches which made me think at first that it was a cone shell of some kind.

But the inner orange and pink color really stands out and I didn’t see it in the Cone Shell.
Similar seashells are listed below:
Sozon’s Cone
Alphabet Cone
Florida Cone

Strawberry Conch
Strawberry Conch

Read more about Florida Seashells here where I have a list of shells I have identified.