Well, I thought I should take pictures of some of the shells I have collected this trip and put names on them. I will not even attempt to put the scientific names up but did find a web site that had a good listing with the common and the scientific names. Like quilt blocks, shells' names are regional which is especially true for things like "conch". The following site has a really complete list of the common names of shells along with their scientific names:http://www.sanibelflorida.com/seashells/sanibelseashellident.htm
Now a little lesson here -- conch basically means shell as conchology is the study of shells. So a pretty meaningless name which is why we should use the scientific names even though I won't (my father is definitely rolling over in his grave at this). Mollusk is also another generic name for shell. Malacology is also the study of shells.
Taxonomy is really the science of classifying "things" so that everyone was speaking from the same page when referring to critters. So the names I am putting on these shells are the common names from the Southwest portion of Florida. The same shell is probably called something different in Nassau or Puerto Rico!!
I have chosen gastropods for today (foot shells that only have one shell, an animal and then another piece of shell called an operculum which covers up the animal when he is resident). Many times you will find the most beautiful shells empty of their animals but which have a hermit crab resident. They seem to pick the nicest ones and as one only collects dead things, they get thrown back in the ocean.
This is the state shell for Florida and is called the horse conch. It generally is bright orange and can range in size from very small to about 18 inches. You can see them in the bay areas around Lovers Key moving around. These were probably just a couple of inches long but I do have some nicer ones at home from previous years. I think the one on the right is really a drill rather than a small horse conch. Drills are another very frequently found shell.
These are the very common lightening whelks. They are the only of the spiral shells with a opening on the left (ie, if you pick it up with your hand in the opening, you would use your left hand). They are very colorful and varied as you can see here and range in size from very small to about 5 inches.
These are called true tulips as opposed to another very similar shell which is called the banded tulip. True tulips tend to be more one color all over while the banded ones have very definite well defined stripes. True tulips are larger as well and I have seen many live specimens this year that are about 5-6 inches in length. You usually see the banded tulips only a couple of inches long.
These are the other whelk -- commonly called the pear whelk which is a right handed shell. These range in size up to quite large and have also a variety of colors. They are recognizabel because of the channels on the top of the shell (as opposed to points for many).
This is the common fig which looks a little like the pear whelk but has a much thinner paperlike shell. It is usually fairly solid in color as well and is a light tan pretty consistently. The one on the right here was a little unusual in that it had so many markings. They can get up to 6 or 7 inches in size and about the smallest I have seen is about 1 inch -- probably because they are a bit fragile.
This is the very common fighting conch which you find alive on the beach constantly. As they stay in the sun for awhile, they get lighter and lighter in color . You can find this in about every size up to about 4 inches long. The one on the far left has a deep purple on the inside which was a little usual for coloring. I have tiny versions all the way up to very large versions of this shell.
This colorful little shell is called the common nutmeg and the largest is about 2 inches in length.
This is the banded tulip and notice how there are very regular rings around the shell although the colorings are a bit different.
These are probably my favorites -- the Florida alphabet cones. The largest is about 3 inches and I have a couple of gorgeous ones at home too. There is also a gold banded cone which has more consistent gold coloring around it but not as pretty to my eye! I have a couple of those but they are lost in the bag of shells I have here. I saw a large colony last year of alive versions of these beautiful shells. I always pick up the shells to see if they are alive or not. Some of my best finds have been shells that I am sure people think are alive (after awhile you get tired of picking up shells thinking they are not alive and they always seem to be). The biggest of these was half buried in sand right at the water's edge and had been seen I am sure by many people.
I do like these as well and they are called apple murex (at least most of these are -- I think some are the so called drills). As you can see, they come in all colors and sizes. Newbies don't pick up these from the piles of shells many tiems as they think they are just barnacles as that is what they look like many times in a pile of shells. They grow to about 2 inches in length.