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Central and South Florida Gastropod Seashell Identification Guide: Home

This guide should serve to teach the public how to identify local Central and South Florida gastropod seashells.

General Information

This guide is for every amateur shell collector and beachcomber who's picked up a shell and wondered "What is this one called?". This guide isn't meant to be exhaustive. Here are the guidelines followed in the creation of this guide: 

  • It will cover the most common and/or easily identifiable shells. 
  • Shells will only be included if they are about an inch or larger in size. 
  • Shells will be identified to the most practical taxonomic level and given common names to assist the curious beachcomber. 
  • Shells are not organized by their taxonomic relationships, but instead by their ease of identification.
  • This guide will try to avoid too much scientific jargon to make the guide easier to use.

Geographical scope of guide

This guide will focus on shells that can be found on the beaches inside of the red box: Tampa and Melbourne in the north to Key West in the south.

When using this guide, start by learning Shell Anatomy. You will be able to click the links within Anatomy to be directed to specific shell families. You can click the tabs to look at the different species. Clicking the scientific name will direct you to the scientific information on the World Register of Marine Species. There are galleries of shell pictures you can scroll through by clicking on the arrows on either side of the image; use these pictures to help identify your shell. Clicking on these pictures will direct you to the copyright information of each image- all of which are covered under a Creative Commons license. Any images that are not associated with a link are creations of the author.

Information on how to collect shells may be found in the Shell Collecting page. You can also find more guides- both physical and electronic- on the Identification Guides page.

Attached is an interactive identification key.  Please note that this key does not identify shells to the species level!

About This Guide

This guide was originally created as an assignment for the University of South Florida's LIS6603 course in Basic Info Sources/Services by Senior Library Assistant Arjay Romanowski. The interactive identification key was also created by Senior Library Assistant Arjay Romanowski as an assignment for the University of South Florida's LIS6303 course in Instructional Media.