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  • José H. Leal

Shell of the Week: The True Tulip

Fasciolaria tulipa (Linnaeus, 1758) is one of the most celebrated local marine snails. Sometimes reaching in excess of 23 cm (about 9 inches), this voracious predator is known to feed on other mollusks and small invertebrates. The shell name alludes to its general shape, resembling a tulip (the flower.) The shell color is very variable, with variations around a theme of fine spiral bands and large irregular spots of orange, brown, reddish-orange, ochre, and similar colors. The animal itself is reddish or darker-red, with delicate lighter-color markings. The operculum is brown and oval-shaped.

The True Tulip, Fasciolaria tulipa, from Terra Ceia Bay, Florida. Photos by Patricia A. Starkey.


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