Tag Archives: identifying seashells

crown conch seashell

Shells I Found on The Muddy Flats

I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but all the shells I found were occupied by hermit crabs, so the best I could do was get some photos.

While traveling the backwaters of the Indian River, we came up behind the islands known as Three Sisters. Since I love to walk along the sandy flats when the tide is out, my son dropped me off and he went out fishing.

I found so many interesting shells in this area that I went back out to the boat to get my camera.

Here’s what I found in this marvelous area of Florida which is mostly untouched by man.

A pretty little yellow Pear Whelk shell. It is similar in looks to the Lightning whelk (second photo), but the opening is on the right, not the left, as in the Lightning whelk.

yellow pear whelk seashell
Little Yellow Pear Whelk Shell – Home to a Hermit Crab
lightning whelk
Little Lightning Whelk

This crown conch is not an unusual find, but I did like the nice size of it’s spikes. Often the spikes can be worn down from all the tumbling about in the ocean, but these spikes were long and sharp. Had to get a photo before the crab inside scampered away.

crown conch seashell
Crown Conch with Great Big Spikes

I wasn’t too sure what this little gray shell was, but I think it’s a faded pear whelk. It’s my best guess.

seashell in mud
Little gray shell

And here’s a real beauty… Yes, this is a seashell. It’s round, and mud covered, but it’s one of my favorite shells. Any guesses? Click to see a good photo of the Shark’s Eye shell.

mud covered round sharks eye seashell
Yes, it’s a seashell!

And my favorite find of the day was this awesome big True Tulip shell. My book says max 5 inches for this one, but this one is more like 6 inches. It has a broken opening with an oyster attached to the inside, and of course, a hermit crab has taken up residence.

true tulip shell
Big True Tulip shell, next to my foot

All these shells and many many more were living in close proximity on this sandy bottom surrounded by oyster beds.  Shells could be seen scurrying along just under the water at low tide, but the crab would stop and hide once I approached.  They tuck themselves all the way up inside these shells, so it looks unoccupied, but I know better.

oyster bed
Oyster bed along the sandy flats
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Identifying Your Seashells, Where to Start?

picture of tropical seashells collection
Some of my Florida seashells

You’ve just returned home from a vacation at the beach and each day you added to your collection of treasures amassed from walks along the shore. As you clean the shells and carefully add them to a glass bowl, you begin to wonder just what they are called.  Is it possible there is a rare seashell in your bucket?  To begin a search for names of shells, I have a few pointers to pass on.

Besides this blog, I have written an article about Types of Shells where I include photos and descriptions of some of my seashells.  I am not a seashell expert, so although I will try to help you identify something, I usually find helpful information in my favorite seashell ID books.

bookMy favorite Florida beaches ID book is Florida’s Living Beaches by Blair and Dawn Witherington.  It covers more than seashells because Florida beaches also contain bugs, birds, driftwood, sea glass, animal tracks, flowers, plants, dunes, and even rocks.  It is a complete beachcombing guide.

Most people don’t realize the abundant variety of shells out there. To make it easier to identify the shell in your possession, first narrow down the field. If you search for “seashells” you will be overwhelmed – mostly with photos and not too much info. The truth is that most people love seashells but that is where it stops. Most, I believe, don’t ever give much thought to what lived inside and how the shell was created, or how it got to the spot where you picked it up, much less what it might be called.  So photos online will be easy to find, but where is that picture (and info) you need to identify what you have?

The first thing I suggest when searching online is to narrow the field by searching for either “gastropod” or “bi-valve“. If your shell was made all in one piece it is a gastropod (univalve), and if it’s in two sections hitched together, like a clam, (even if you only have one half) then it’s a bi-valve. That should give you a bunch of pictures to view. Also mention where it was found.

Sometimes shells with the same name will vary in appearance.  For instance, the gastropod you found may be a juvenile (baby seashell) and doesn’t look at all like the large shell it would have grown into.   See my Lightning Whelk picture, with mature and juvenile  shells side by side.  It took me a while to figure out what that little one was!

Scallops and clams are found in a variety of colors and sizes as are many other types of shells. Worn and faded shells, and shells full of bore holes, won’t resemble similar types which are in good condition.

If you have a lot of shells you want to identify, or if you plan to continue your collection and will visit a beach often, then you may want to buy a good seashell identification book.  Buy one that is specific to your area, or the area you plan to visit, because the same types of shells are not always found everywhere in the world. The great thing about having a book to reference is that it should give you the scientific name of the shells.  The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Seashells (National Audubon Society Field Guides) is the book I started with.   Once you find the scientific name of a shell, it’s easier to search online for a picture.

The more you learn about seashells, the less you will take them for granted, and the more you will appreciate each shell you collect for the diverse and amazing animal that created it.

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.