The lightning whelk seashell is one of my favorites, with it’s stripes and long shell opening. It can grow to quite a big shell also. I have seen many of these shells, and have some in my collection, but this is the first time I have found a live mollusk inside a lightning whelk shell.
I have a little video below.
This shell had a particularly white spire – top swirl – and there was no hermit crab inside. Honestly, I had expected to see one when I found the shell moving around on the soft sand of the river bottom.
The cone shell is recognizable by it’s somewhat flattened spiral / spire at the top. Some cone snails are deadly, not only to prey but to humans as well. The geographic cone snail can grow to be six inches long, and it’s venom can be fatal to humans. Ironically, some of those toxins can be used as pain-killing medications.
Here’s a bit of fun info concerning cone shells: Puka shells are really little pieces from cone shells. The ocean is scoured for round sections to make necklaces – if you buy a REAL puka shell necklace. Mostly puka shell necklaces are fakes, but they are still unique.
There are over 500 types of cone snail. The photo above came from the Pixabay site and I don’t know exactly what type of shell it is, but I am guessing it’s in the cone snail family because of it’s shape.
Watch Nat Geo’s “World’s Weirdest – Killer Cone Snail” short YouTube video to see how this sea creature captures and kills it’s dinner.
Cone shells are loved by collectors as they contain beautiful colors and patterns.
I spent a lot of time picking up seashells along the Florida coastline when I was a resident there, and the blue shells are some of my favorite. The heavy bivalves are known as cockle shells and the fact that they have ridges and stripes of tan make them even more interesting.
The beautiful coloring of shells won’t last forever and especially if you put them outdoors in the sun. I bought a couple of large pink conchs about 20 years ago and I’ve loved adding them to my sunny porch railing in summer. Lately I’ve noticed that they are looking more faded and not quite so pink and it’s because of the sun.
Sunshine is not as strong up here in the northeastern U.S., where I now live, as it is in Florida, but it will still fade the color of a pretty shell. I love to put them outside as that is where they seem to belong, but I realize that my pink conch may end up white one day!
If your starfish or sand dollars need brightening, just set them out in the sun for a while. They are much more brittle than a sea shell and be sure to bring them in when it rains because water will make them soft sometimes.
The Scotch Bonnet seashell (Phalium granulatum) is a member of the helmet shell family and although some of the helmets can be quite large, the Scotch Bonnet is usually no larger than 3-4 inches. It’s a whitish shell with rows of squarish spots that are tan or caramel colored which looks like a checker board. The outer lip of the shell is turned up, or rolled and they live in shallow ocean water in the sand. They can be found all along the southern U.S. on the shores from North Carolina to Texas and are the official state shell of North Carolina.