Tag Archives: gastropod

true tulip seashell

The Big True Tulip Shell I Had to Give Back

While boating around the backwater, looking for some fish to catch, we pulled up to a muddy area covered with about 6 inches of water. While the boys played around with the boat, I walked the flat area in search of seashells. I saw many crown conchs, all of which had hermit crabs moving them around.

When I came to an odd looking thing, and realized it was a sting ray, which are common in these areas. But this one, about a foot in size, wasn’t moving away. He was “watching” me as I approached. It was a little creepy, so I turned and walked back toward the boat.

On my way back, I saw an odd shape in the mud and touched it with my foot (which was inside my water shoes, of course!). It felt hard and I thought it must be a shell that was buried in the sand. I began to hope that it might be a great find.

I reached down and pulled up a big True Tulip shell!  You can see it next to my glasses below, and it measured about 5.5 inches in length.

big true tulip seashell
True Tulip Seashell, Measuring 5.5 inches long

According to my Seashell Book, the True tulip reaches a size of 5 inches max. So this one was a big shell.

(By the way, the photo at the top was of a smaller tulip I found in another spot. I included that picture to show the colors and bands a little better.)
So this was not the first Tulip shell I had found, but I haven’t been able to collect any because they are always occupied by hermit crabs.

This one was buried down under the sand. I saw no sign of life inside the shell. How exciting… I had not only found a Tulip to keep, but it was a huge Tulip! I brought it over to the boat and set it inside to take home.

tulip shell covered with dirt
Top of the Tulip Shell

It was late by the time we got home so I rinsed the shell and set it out on the back patio for overnight. Some time later I looked outside and noticed that the shell was not there. Hmmmm… this could be disappointing.

I found it up next to the house and my suspicions were correct. A HUGE hermit crab was living inside the shell. This happened to me not long ago, when I collected a broken white whelk and it ended up being a hermit crab home too.

So I put the beautiful shell into a bucket and the next morning when we went out on the boat again I put the shell, with the hermit crab inside, back into the water.

I still don’t have a Tulip shell.

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Seashell With Orange Inside

seashell
Seashell

This pretty picture of a seashell with orange inside came from a contributor at the Pixabay site. I’ve noticed over the years that more and more wonderful seashell photography has been added to the free to use, public domain site.

I will be honest and say that I don’t know what this shell is. Users of Pixbay don’t usually list where the shell was found, and users live all over the world. The one who uploaded this shell picture is from the Czech Republic.

This shell is a gastropod with a short spire (top swirl). The only info I have are the tag words posted with the picture, which are “seashell”, “sea”, and “the clams”. A clam shell is a bi-valve – comes in two parts – so I would say this is not a clam. At least it’s not any kind of clam I have seen.

If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a whelk or a conch, which does not really narrow it down much!  It looks to me like the tail of the shell might be broken.  See how the dark orange on the inner lip abruptly ends?  If it once had a longer tail the shell would take on a different appearance.  And how long was the tail?  We can only guess.

We also don’t know the true size of this shell.  It could be quite large, or the photo could be a macro image of a very tiny shell.  If that is the case, it could be a Florida rock snail, which only grows to around 3 inches long. All this information is used to identify mollusks, and we don’t have access to it.  I’m not even sure if the photo below (by the same user at Pixabay) is of this same shell, but I assume it is.

Do you have any guesses as to what type of shell it is?  Maybe you know it’s name.  If so, please share.

spiral top of seashell
Spiral top of a Seashell

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 FloridaSheller.com 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.

Little White Moon Snail Seashell

moon snail shell
Milk Moon Snail

There are many types, shapes and sizes of the moon shell family (Naticidae) but this little snail stands out because of it’s milky white and very glossy appearance.

The Milk Moon Snail (Polinices lacteus) is a common find on the beaches from North Carolina to Brazil and will be fairly small. Mine is only 3/4 of an inch (1.9cm) long and less than 1/2 inch (1.3cm) high. They can be as large as 1 1/2 inches (3.8cm) . The Latin “lacteus” means “milk white”.

moon snail shell
Bottom of the Milk Moon

It’s shape is very much like other moon snails and the shark’s eye shell. In New England there is a larger moon shell that can grow up to 5 inches (12.7cm) and feeds on clams. That one is the Common Northern Moon Shell and can be found as far north as New Brunswick and all the way down to North Carolina.