Florida Sea Shell Identification

By Kandra Sperling

Florida is a virtual mecca for shell seekers, where they can find a wide variety of intricately-designed sea shells of various shapes, sizes and colors. Part of the enjoyment of collecting seashells is learning to identify them and the marine life that once resided in them.

Features

Shells found on Florida beaches range from tiny, iridescent jingles that are usually no bigger than one and a half inches across, to the state seashell known as the horse conch, which can be as large as 24 inches in length.

Fighting Conch

Among the most common seashells in Florida, especially on Sanibel Island, is the fighting conch. A fighting conch can be up to four inches in size and range in color from white with streaks of tan to coral with swirls of amber.

King's Crown Shell

King's crown shells are aptly named, as the top of the shell resembles a crown. The shell, which can be up to four inches in length, makes an ideal "palace" for the hermit crab. King's crown shells are usually found in oyster beds and mangroves.

Junonia Shell

Junonia shells are generally found offshore, but are sometimes found on Florida beaches. Junonia shells can be up to five inches long and are white with uniformly spaced brown spots.

Murex Shells

Five types of murex shells can be found in Florida. The spiny apple murex features thick and thin ribs with variegated shades of white, tan and brown. The apple murex is found only in South Florida and the Keys. Rose murex shells have a smooth pink interior with an ornate, but rough exterior.

Lion's Paw

Lion's paw shells are fan-shaped shells that comes in bright colors of orange, coral and crimson, and can be as large as six inches across. Lion's paw shells are hard to find on beaches. The best chance to find one is after a storm.

About the Author

Kandra Sperling is a freelance writer and photojournalist with more than 30 years' experience. She has worked as a community news editor, writer and photographer for the "Morning News of Northwest Arkansas." She has received three awards from the National Press Women's Association and numerous state awards. Sperling earned a bachelor's degree in English and journalism from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.