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Guide to the Shells Found in Florida

Planning to visit Florida? Seashells in Florida are easier to find, compared to some places on earth, but even though they are in abundance along the Florida coastline, they are a real treasure to pick up while strolling the beaches.

The mellow surf of the Gulf Coast of Florida can be easier on shells, than other beaches like Hawaii, so intact shells are more abundant than you might think. In Florida, you find seashells strewn all along the waterline as you wander down the beach.

What Are Sea Shells?

Seashells are the exoskeletons of mollusks such as snails, clams, oysters and many others. Such shells have three distinct layers and are composed mostly of calcium carbonate with only a small quantity of protein–no more than 2 percent.

Common Sea Shells Found in Florida

When you are going to Florida, one of the things that you know is that its full of beaches. If you love shells, you’ll be happy to know that there are a lot of shells that you can find here when you’re beachcombing. The time to go looking for shells is following a storm, following high tide, in the winter and during the morning hours. Below are the shells that people often find in Florida.


Keep in mind that an inhabited seashell is a sea creature’s home! In Florida, it’s against the law to remove an occupied seashell or live starfish, from the beach. (If you find you’ve picked one up, don’t throw it into the water — place it gently, to avoid damage.)


These are also called fighting conchs and they’re the kind of conch that people often find on the beach. When it’s alive, it’s bright orange in color, but it’s going to fade under the sunshine. It’s illegal to harvest conchs now in Florida.


Junonia shells are very rare and prized by those who collect shells. It has a milky chamber that’s covered with brown spots on its exterior, and that animal that lives inside is marked the same way.

Lightning Whelk

These distinctive, large shells can grow as large as 16 inches. They were used in the past by natives for tools and food, commonly being used as lamps. They have a sinistral or left-handed shell.


Heart cockles are among the shells that are most commonly found, even though they’re rare elsewhere in the world. Cockle mollusks are footed creates that are able to jump a few inches in just one leap. These kinds of shells can be big.

Banded Tulip

Banded tulips along with their rarer, larger cousins, called true tulips, will frequently wash up on the shores and delight beachcombers and collectors, since they love their form and intriguing patterns.

Sand Dollars

When they’re alive, sand dollars are flat, thin, bristled and brown and they have tiny tubs which let them move, camouflage themselves and breathe. When they’re exposed to the sun, they bleach and have a beautiful white with a textured pattern.


These are named because they are elongated like olives and they come in lots of variations and colors, and they often have glossy finishes. They become white when they’re sun-bleached and they don’t often get longer than 3 inches.


Murex have different shapes with long tails and spikes that go down. Their interior is a delicate pink interior. They’re going to be really hard to find in a condition that’s good because they’re fragile and the spikes are usually destroyed by the surf


These are small shells, not a lot bigger than dimes and they come in a lot of colorful stripes, patterns, plaids and stripes. You’ll likely be seeing live coquinas that are digging down into sand when waves are receding.


These are also called horned shells and they’re often found in Florida. They can vary in ornament and size. The varieties that are most common are grass, dark, flyspeck, stocky, West Indian False and varicose.

Worm Snail

These shells look like some spaghetti attached to a rock. Sometimes there are millions or more worm tubes that are built on reefs.

Spotted Slipper

These are often known as boat shells. When they are upside down, these shells look like a ship that has a deck that’s flat. After two years of floating around loose, they’re going to eventually become attached to another shell that’s empty or a rock.

Keyhole Limpet

There’s 36 subspecies and species of these kinds of limpets found on the North America continent. The keyhole limpets all have openings at their shells’ top. These types of shells are cap-shaped or conical and don’t have any spiral whorls.

Turkey Wings

The unique shape of the turkey wings makes them really easy for beachcombers to identify. Since the shells look something like bird wings that are outstretched their names are Turkey Wings. The shells are a bit over 2 inches in length, and one side is pretty much straight.


Wentletrap also called ladder or staircase shells, are known for the intricate structure of the shell. Most of the species are white and have an appearance that is similar to porcelain. These shells are sought after by those who collect shells.

Calico Scallop

The fan-shaped, brightly colored shells that some scallops have, with a fluted pattern, are highly valued by collectors. These shells are as long as 2 inches and they have patterns that are beautiful and diverse.

Florida Spiny Jewelbox

This shell is around 1 ½ inches long and it’s along Florida’s coast. The shell’s white and it’s interior could show red or pink tinges. The shell’s very heavy and thick despite being small.


These are polished looking and wrinkled, and they will come in many translucent colors. This can range from orange shades to shades of dark grey. Other common colors are off-white and white. When you shake these shells, they make jingling sounds.

Head to Florida

When visiting Florida, you’ll be amazed by the beautiful beaches, sand and warm inviting water that hugs the many miles of coastline. These are the shells that you may find when you are on the beach, but there are other native creatures to been seen as well like manatees, panthers, and alligators to name just a few.

After Shelling Just Relax

After shelling on the Gulf Coast, return to the beauty and comfort of a home from Naples Florida Vacation Homes. We have a wide selection of homes located all over the Naples area. Whether you’re hoping to squeeze in a few rounds of golf during your visit or you’d like to relax by a private pool, you’ll find the perfect home to fit your needs.

Check out our rentals and book today! We look forward to having you.

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