Southwest Florida Shells
José H. Leal
Shell size to 20 cm; shell fusiform with about nine rounded whorls. Surface smooth, except for very fine growth lines. Outer lip thin, with fine denticles on inner edge. Operculum thick, heavy. Color extremely variable, cream, light-brown, to reddish orange with irregular blotches of darker brown, white, or cream. Brown spiral lines present. 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 living animal is bright-orange, reddish, or darker red. On seagrass bottoms and sand flats. The operculum is oval, with "pointy" ends. The live animal and the egg cases detail photos were taken by Amy Tripp near Marco Island. The two chitons on the shell are Chaetopleura apiculata.