About the Shark’s Eye Seashell

One of my favorite seashells to come across is the Shark’s Eye. The slightly flattened, round shape makes it unmistakable, but often the shells I find are covered in mud and guck. Below is a Shark’s Eye crusted over with hard mud.

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

The Shark’s Eye has the scientific name “Neverita duplicata” and is the family Naticidae. Baby’s ear shells, see photo below, and Moonsnails are related to the Shark’s Eye.

Baby's ear seashell
Baby’s ear seashell

The spire is tightly swirled in the center and can be blueish in color – hence the name. The rest of the shell is usually brownish with some maroon and gray, and has a dark interior. It is very smooth.

Beautiful shark's eye seashell
Shark’s Eye

On a recent boating trip to Three Sisters, I came across two very pretty Shark’s Eye shells. They were in shallow, clear water. These are the pictures I took of the two different shells. Both were about 2 inches in size.

Shark's eye seashell bottom
Sharks eye opening

Both beautiful shells contained hermit crabs, of course! You may be able to just see the legs tucked down inside the shell in my photo below. The crabs usually hide when the shell is held or moved.

hermit crab inside sharks eye shell
Hermit crab hiding inside

What’s Inside a Shark’s Eye Seashell?

Most often I see Striped Hermit crabs inside shells, but only when the original snail has died and left the shell empty.

One day I was at the ocean beach, in New Smyrna, and I found a little shark’s eye shell with the snail inside!

I was sitting at the edge of the ocean enjoying the warm water of a tide pool, and there he / she was. I picked up the shell thinking I had found a keeper, and discovered it was alive! I tucked him back into the sand, after I took a photo. He was small enough to be ignored by passersby, and mostly buried. He was probably waiting for the tide to come back in.

shell in the sand
Very small living Shark’s Eye on the beach

Pam, at “I love Shelling” has a video of a living shark’s eye moving along her hand. She lives on Sanibel Island, the Gulf coast, and you can see that video here.

Even Broken Shells Are Pretty

Nearly every Shark’s Eye shell I find contains a hermit crab – unless the shell is so broken no hermit could live in it. That is why my collection only contains bits and pieces of the Shark’s Eye shell. I sometimes find broken shells at Ponce Inlet, where many shells are black in color.

smooth parts of different sharks eye shells
Pieces of Shark’s Eye seashells

Shark’s Eye Habitat and Fun Facts

This snail lives in sand where they hunt for clams to eat. According to my reference book, they are found all around the Florida coast. Of course they are easier to find in some places than others.

Once they find dinner, they bore holes into the shell of their victim and inject the clam with enzymes to kill it. Then, they suck out the remains. If you find a shell with a hole in it, now you know how the mollusk died. Other predatory snails eat this way as well.

cross-barred venus clam

Often shells with tiny holes lost their mollusk to a predator who drilled that hole to eat the contents!

Some people call shark’s eye shells “shark eye” or use “moon snail” to describe all these similar shells. All I know is that they are not all exactly alike and each has a different scientific name. The Shark’s eye is the largest and can be 3 inches across. The Gulf Coast area has shells like this, but with an “eye” area that pops out more from the shell – see “Neverita delessertiana“.

My shells have been found on the Atlantic, east coast of Florida and mostly out on the island beaches in the backwater areas. The broken pieces wash in through the inlet, but there are not a lot of them. This type of Shark’s eye can be found all the way up into New England.

Collection of broken Sharks eye shells

My large broken shell lets me get a look at the smooth interior parts. This is the body whorl where the mollusk that created the shell lived his life. It may have been home to a hermit crab before it was broken apart by waves and sand.

shiny inside body whorl of a Shark's Eye seashell
Inside a broken sharks eye shell

The Unusual Egg Case of a Shark’s Eye / Moon Snail

When I look up “sand collar” or “round egg casing” the Moon Snail is the mollusk mentioned. I usually refer to this shell as the Shark’s Eye. It is the same type of shell I regularly see in my area – brown with a center “eye”. So the egg casing below, which I found in the areas I beach-comb probably belongs to this shell. You may call it a Moon Snail where you live. The difference seems to be in the coloring.

I found the sand collar below in January 2021 and wasn’t sure what it was. I’ve never found one before. In fact, I found two near each other in a shallow backwater area of the Indian River.

The center opening of the collar gives an idea of the size of the “mom” who laid the casing. It feels like rubber, but is made of sand and baby moon snails. Once the babies hatch the collar will disintegrate.

Sand collar of the moon snail
Sand collar made up of baby moon snails and sand

Identifying Pieces of Seashells Found on the Beach

Often I will pick up interesting pieces of seashells while beach-combing.  I’m getting better at identifying the pieces.  The more variety of shells I collect, the easier it becomes.  If the bit of shell baffles me at the seashore, I search it out in my favorite seashell book, or look through my seashell collection.

Seashells break for many reasons and some shells are more fragile than others.  The Channeled duck clam is thin and most of them are broken on top.  (It’s the white shell in the left-hand photo below.)

Usually it’s the surf and wave action that tumbles the shell until it breaks.  Birds can be the culprits too.  Whatever the reason, it can challenge the mind to picture bits as whole shells.  Usually I am sorry I missed seeing it as a whole, beautiful specimen.

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 12.19.10 PM

While visiting Ponce Inlet, I brought home this large, smooth, brown bit of shell, and a smaller piece like it.  I wondered what it could have been originally. Continue reading “Identifying Pieces of Seashells Found on the Beach”

Almost Got A Gorgeous Sharks Eye

sharks eye with hermit crab
Bottom of Sharks Eye shell with hermit crab showing

The sharks eye seashell is easy to identify with it’s round, swirled shape. I have a few of them, but the big ones (they can be up to 3 inches across) are truly gorgeous.

The shell is smooth and usually a gray-brown color. It’s a chunky round shell and I’m always on the lookout for one when I am near the ocean.

While walking along a deserted beach on a little island I found a gorgeous shark’s eye! It was big and so lovely. Then, my excitement lessened as I went to pick it up and it moved. A hermit crab had taken up residence inside. Just like all the other awesome shells I had found that day, it was a home for the spider-like crabs.

Photos were all I could take with me, as I put the shell back on the sand. Darn, it was a beauty!  I lightened up the image above so you could see the hermit crab tucked up inside the shell.  They usually don’t come out unless left totally alone.  Some of them are up inside the shells so far that they can’t be seen at all (which is why I took one home by accident).  And almost every shell I find out on the Indian River has a hermit crab inside it!

sharks eye
Sorry for the blurry shark’s eye photo

I only had my cell phone camera and it’s difficult to see anything in the bright sun.  I basically have to take the shots blind and hope for the best.  This one didn’t come out so great, but I figured I’d share so you can get an idea of that “eye” in the center top.

If it had been empty, I’d have collected it in a minute!  I think it would have cleaned up nicely.

While beach-combing in another area I managed to find a tiny shark’s eye shell in the sand.  It was broken, but I snatched it up anyway.  No crab inside this one!

I also found more interesting seashells that day.  If you are interested, go read that post.

sharks eye
Little Sharks Eye Shell

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