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. Live shelling is prohibited in Collier County. Ensure there is no animal inside before taking any shells.”

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 a plant eating mollusk. Its name likely is derived from the feisty attitude it displays when picked up rather than from any violent tendencies toward other snails. True members of the conch family, these 3-4 inch long snails have two notches at the front of their shells that their unusually large, stalked eyes project through. Fighting conchs often move in hops. They pick up their shell, leap forward a short distance in normal travel, or a few inches in escape mode, then pick up the shell and leap forward again.

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

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

Stay Connected with Us!

E-Newsletter

Keep up-to-date on the latest news, events, research, and fun happenings at Rookery Bay!