Shells from the Bahamas & Caribbean Islands

Columbella mercatoria

A very common shell from the middle Atlantic seaboard to the Bahamas. These shells variously colored: brown, yellow, orange and red. This one is from the island of Grenada.

Crassispira albocincta

Usually found under rocks just inside a coral reef, this shell came from Grenada.

Tegula excavata (large) and Tegula hotessieriana (small)

From Grenada.

Astraea caelata

Well camouflaged by algal growth, from Grenada.

Astraea caelata

Same shell, turned over.

Cypraea cinerea

The animal of this cowry is less spectacular than most - in fact, just a thin mantle comes out...

Cypraea cinerea

but the animal is very active and scoots all over the aquarium...

Cypraea cinerea

Usually found under rocks just inside a coral reef, this shell came from Grenada.

Crepidula convexa

"Slipper Shells" attach themselves to rocks, shells, and other hard surfaces to protect their exposed bodies from predation...

Crepidula convexa

Turned over, they try to right themselves.

Fissurella species

My, what a big nose you have! I was surprised at the siphon on this unidentified limpet from Grenada.

Lottia leucopleura

This animal is most often found on the shell of Cittarium pica

, the West Indian Top Shell. It came from Grenada.

Lima (Ctenoides) tenera

This spectacular animal makes the shell one of the two most often spotted by snorkelers and divers looking in holes in coral reefs. This specimen is from Grenada.

An unidentified rissoid. The shell is less than 1/4 inch long and was found in Grenada.
Stramonita haemastoma

Often found with many others laying eggs. This shell came from Grenada.

Crassispira albocincta

Usually found under rocks just inside a coral reef, this shell came from Grenada.

Volvarina avena

These guys put the lie to the idea that snails move slowly! As soon as I put it in the aquarium, it started running around, looking for sand to burrow under. I found it in sand under a dead coral rock in Grenada.

"Lettuce Slug"

There are a lot of nudibranchs (shell-less molluscs) in the Caribbean, but this is the most common. Of course, you cannot collect this "shell", so I photographed it and then we returned it to the reef in Grenada.


Another view of the "Lettuce Slug" shows the beautiful colors on its back.

Voluta musica

Though we had bad weather in Grenada, we were able to find many typical shells, including this Music Volute, which performed well for my camera. Volutes bury during the day, and I fanned this one from sand under a rock.

Leucozonia nassa

Most of the time these "Chestnut Latirus" are encrusted with coralline growths, but the ones we found in Grenada were very handsome and clean. The red animal is typical of most of the family.

Leucozonia ocellata

Another Latirus, the "White Spotted Latirus" also has a red animal. Many of these and the preceding species have a "tooth" on the outer lip, with which they can open up their prey (perhaps barnacles). Found in Grenada

Nassarius polygonatus

This animal also went charging around the aquarium, making for wonderful action pictures. These are among the garbagemen of the mollusk world, eating dead fish, crabs, etc and cleaning up the environment. We get these in West Florida, but this one came from Grenada.

Hemitoma octoradiata

My mother taught me not to mix colors like hot pink and turquoise, but no one told these guys! The animal is much more colorful than the dull white shell under all that coralline growth. I suspect it tastes bad! This one is from Grenada.

Australium phoebium

Normally I would expect to get no more of a glimpse of the animal of this "Star Shell" than this, but...


This one reared up and prepared to look around...


posing for wonderful photos. This shell was well camouflaged and hunkered down beside a piece of dead coral in Grenada.

Caribachlamys ornata?

We are always hoping these shells are C. mildredae, a rarer species, but so far I've not found one of them, so this is probably ornata again! From Grenada, attached to the underside of a dead coral rock by its byssus.

Pugilina morio

We expected to find Melongena melongena, a relative of this shell in mud among the mangroves in Grenada, but this species was a surprise! I've found it in Panama and Brazil, in the same habitat.

Crassispira cf apicata

This is my favorite of the shells I found in Grenada, and I got two nice specimens. Of course, since Turridae are my favorites, I'm always glad to find them!

Epitonium lamellosum

This shell actually came from the next island chain south of the Bahamas, Middle Caicos, Turks and Caicos. It had just washed up on the beach at lot tide, and I didn't realize it was alive until I got back to my room. It's the only live shell I was able to photograph from that trip.

Semicassis cicatricosa

This rather rare species was just about the only shell worth keeping from "Shell Beach" on Crooked Island in the Bahamas! Unfortunately, I didn't find it!

Strombus gallus, "Rooster Tail Conch"

This was very nearly the last shell I found on the trip to Crooked Island, and very possibly the best of all. It's not an easy shell to find!

Strombus gallus, "Rooster Tail Conch"

A spetacular shell.

Hastula hastata

The normal-colored shell in the foreground wasn't buried very deep, so green algae grew on its back. The white shell in the background is unusual in color. From Crooked Island.

Neverita pediculus, "Coffee Bean Trivia"

In this shot you can see some of the shell, found under a dead coral slab at Crooked Island.

Neverita pediculus, "Coffee Bean Trivia"

More of the mantle is covering the shell in this shot. You have to know what to look for - the animal doesn't look like the shell at all!

Vexillum sykesi

A small, inconspicuous but very common shell from the Bahamas to at least Honduras.

Cymatium cynocephalum

I found this near Marsh Harbor in the Abacos in a sandy area with some of the algae called "Merman's Shaving Brush." One of the "shaving brushes" moved oddly and I saw it was a shell! The shell mimics the shape of the alga, and the hairy periostracum gathers sand to help camouflage it.

Cymatium cynocephalum

A frontal view.

Cymatium femorale

These are usually found at the edge of grass flats. This one is from Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos.

Cymatium labiosum

A small shell found in a variety of habitats.

Cyphoma signatum

This is the only live specimen of this shell I've found. It was on the soft coral shown at a small reef off Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.

Cypraeacassis testiculus

Live specimens of this shell are seldom found in daylight, since they burrow in sand and come out to hunt at night. I once took one away from an octopus.