Shell Feature: The Lightning Whelk

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The lightning whelk is such fun to find!  And, because of it's left handed sinistral shell, it is unique.  Often people confuse the lightning whelk with a knobbed whelk and other conchs, which are "right-handed" with a right handed sinistral shell.  I have confused the two multiple times, and just recently did so when I found egg cases of lightning whelks.  I assumed they were egg cases of knobbed whelks.

I find tiny lightning whelks more often than large whelks, often on both along sound at Masonboro Island, and along the ocean at Wrightsville Beach and Ocean Drive.  Here are a few of my favorites from my collection.
Ocean Drive photo shoot.  They look like ice cream cones. :)

Pre- photo shoot.

5 different sizes.

Left handed sinistral shell.

Smaller whelk - only about 1.5" in length.

Baby whelks found in egg case (on Bald Head), with larger whelk  (found on Longboat Key, FL).
These lovely whelks can be found all the way up in New Jersey and down through the Gulf.  The Lightning Whelk is the state shell of Texas, and quite the clammer.  Adults usually eat one clam a month, and use their shell to help pry open the shell.  Wonder if they ever casino their clams?


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