The crown conch shell is one I see a lot while boating and walking in the river at low tide. Usually they are not very pretty and are covered in mud and green stuff. The larger ones tend to be broken, but they make nice homes for hermit crabs when the snail dies.
The crown conch shell, sometimes called king’s crown, is recognizable by it’s pointy ridges and horizontal stripes. When cleaned up, it’s a beautiful specimen. When found in the wild, it may only be recognized by the points along the top of the swirls.
While visiting the intracoastal waterway (Indian River) backwater area this summer, I saw many crown conch shells in a variety of sizes. They were often inhabited, not by the snail that made them, but by a hermit crab.
Many years ago my kids had hermit crabs as pets. This was mostly due to the fact that my daughter wanted to have one of every kind of animal on earth as her pet. We had to buy gravel to put in a small container for the crab and we had to provide empty seashells for it to move into when it grew.
Now I wonder how the hermit crabs we had as pets lived at all, since the ones I saw in the wild stay completely under water. And it’s salt water. They are walking all over the shallows and could be in deeper water too I suspect. Apparently, after learning more about hermit crabs, there are different types, including my run in with the Giant Red Hermit Crab.
I would have come home with quite a nice collection of shells if not for the fact that hermit crabs had taken up residence in every one available!
Besides the beautiful striped crown shell, I found pear whelks and lightning whelks. The unique round shark’s eye was another I couldn’t collect. You can’t see the hermit crabs, but they are tucked down inside these shells.
Then, I finally found a crown shell with the snail inside (photo below). I took it out of the water for a moment to snap a photo and then I put him back. One day his shell will most likely be a hermit crab home.