Shell quiz: what is that shell?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yesterday I found some gems!  Some baby gems.  Some days finding these smaller shells really make shelling feel like a treasure hunt.  I thought it would be fun to test our knowledge, and maybe introduce you to a shell you have never seen before...or perhaps one you have found, but haven't been able to figure out it's name.  This happens to me a lot.  Which is one of the many reasons I love to shell - figuring out another thing I can collect and horde in my already limited living space.  See if you get these right - I'll include a little bit of info on each one as I list the names of the above numbered shells.  

1.  Channeled whelk - this is a baby one and only 3/4".  I rarely find these very large, but each find is beautiful.  Their colors can be yellow or gray on the outside with yellow, orange, and violet on the interior and horny ridges around each channel aperture (the coiling of the whelk).  Channeled whelks live in shallow offshore waters and deeper areas of sounds and inlets.  

2.  Atlantic oyster drill - this specific shell I found isn't even 1/2", and most remain below 1 1/2"s.  These shells live in sounds and inlets and are commonly found.  This species is a major oyster predator, although its effect on the North Carolina industry is less devastating than in Northern states.  However, they prefer barnacles and also prey on crabs.  

3.  Florida wormsnail - as you can see this shell has a tightly coiled shell.  Many times you can find multiple wormsnails attached to each other creating a large mass.  They filter their food through the coils.

4.  Keyhole Limpet - I call these shells Chinaman's Hats.  I love the look off these shells, and they remain one of my favorite shells to find.  It attaches itself to rocks with it's powerful foot and feeds off algae.  Because of the jetty at Masonboro Inlet, you can find these often on Masonboro Island in a range of lovely colors.

5.  Angulate wentletrap - these have strong and pronounced ribs, and are found infrequently.  These shells are carnivores, and forge themselves in sand for sea anemones and tears tissue with their jaws.  

6.  Star coral -  one of my favorite shells to collect.  Because of the nature of coral, you can find star coral in all different shapes.  I also find coral growing on pieces of shells that wash up on the beach and sounds.

7.  Shark eye - Smooth circular shell with a small spire.  Gets it's name by the prominent eye in the spire's center.  This shell is also a carnivore burrowing in sand to find it's prey.  Commonly found on North and South Carolina beaches.  I find loads of these in Ocean Drive, although it's one of my least favorite shells.  I think it looks like a boob.

8.  Lettered Olive - I call it a Key Shell.  It is South Carolina's state shell, and for good reason.  I find them all the time in Ocean Drive, and never tire of finding these gems!  These shells are also carnivores and feed on bivalves and small crustaceans.

If you can, get out on the beaches today at low tide, and bring a ziploc.  These small gems are out there right now!  Low tide at Ocean Drive Beach (and North Myrtle Beach) is at 8:21 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. tomorrow morning.  If you are on Wrightsville Beach, Masonboro Inlet tide is low tonight at 9:15 p.m. and tomorrow at 9:25 a.m.  Happy Shelling!


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