SHELLS AND MOLLUSKS IN THE RESERVE

Banded Tulip Wildlife in Naples | Rookery Bay Research Reserve

Banded Tulip

Fasciolaria hunteria
The banded tulip is a marine snail that reaches 3″ in length. Its shell has a slender, tapered shape with a smooth, shiny surface. Fine lines of dark brown ring blue-green and tan whorls. Its cousin, the true tulip, is also a common find along Naples’ beaches, but its shell is more mottled with dark brown coloration.

Where to Find

Banded tulips range from North Carolina to the Gulf States is found locally in three to 40 feet of water.

Fighting Conch

Strombus alatus
The Florida fighting conch is an herbivore like all true conchs.  The name refers to the snails unique locomotion. Utilizing its modified operculum, it can dig into the substrate and hop away from predators.  Like its larger relative the queen conch, this snail has divots in its shell for its stocked eyes.

Where to Find

Storms and currents sometimes cause these snails to wash up along barrier island beaches in large numbers.
Fighting Conch Wildlife in Naples | Rookery Bay Research Reserve
Horse Conch Wildlife in Naples | Rookery Bay Research Reserve

Horse Conch

Triplofusus giganteus
The horse conch is the state shell of Florida and is closely related to tulip snails. Young horse conch shells are orange but when mature are covered with brown, non-calcareous material called periostracum. The largest snail residing in American waters and one of the largest univalves in the world, the horse conch lives more than 10 years and preys upon other snails.

Where to Find

The Florida horse conch can be found throughout Florida marine waters, foraging in seagrass beds or buried in sandy sediments.

Oysters

Crassostrea virginica
Oysters are shelled, filter-feeding animals related to clams and scallops. Microscopic young, called spat, float in the water column until they grow and settle on a hard substrate where they cement themselves in clumps. Clumps of oysters, sometimes called reefs or beds, provide invaluable shelter for small crabs, shrimp, marine worms, snails and other invertebrates (animals without backbones).

At high tide, fish such as spotted sea trout, red drum and snook patrol these beds looking for food, small animals that are hidden amongst the shells. At low tide, the reef serves as a buffet for wading birds including the american oystercatcher. Oyster beds also serve as excellent substrate for mangrove seedlings (called propagules) to take root.

Where to Find

Oysters are mainly found in salty or brackish waters in all U.S. coasts.
Oyster Bed Wildlife in Naples | Rookery Bay Research Reserve

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