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  • José H. Leal

Who Eats Whom?

Looks are sometimes deceptive; take, for instance, this photo taken by Amy Tripp at Kice Island, in Southwest Florida. To the unsuspecting viewer, it looks as if the larger Florida Fighting Conch (with orange shell) was eating the smaller Lettered Olive. The opposite, however, seems to be the case. Florida Fighting Conchs are herbivorous, feeding on seaweed, and Lettered Olives are “broad-spectrum” carnivores, feeding on a range of worms, little clams, and even feasting on decomposing crabs and other mollusks. Despite its larger size, common sense indicates that the conch is the meal, while the olive is the one enjoying it. It is also possible that the olive was dining at the scavenging end of its "meal spectrum", eating a very dead conch.

Lettered Olive, Americoliva sayana, and Florida Fighting Conch, Strombus alatus, by Amy Tripp.


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