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Central and South Florida Gastropod Seashell Identification Guide: Augers and Ceriths

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

The Augers

(Family) Terebridae

Distinguishing Characteristics: The Augers are relatives of the Cones.  They have a slender triangular shape, with a small aperture and a very long spire.

Habitat:  These snails prefer to live on muddy sand or sand flats in intertidal waters up to 25 feet.

Diet:  This family primarily feeds upon young clams and potentially marine worms.  The local species prefers to eat small crustaceans called copepods.

Interesting Facts:  As relatives to the Cones, the Augers may possess a venomous harpoon-like stinger.  The local species lack this stinger, and there's little literature about the effects of an Auger sting on humans, but you should always stay safe.  Never pick up a live auger snail, no matter the species.  Their flesh may also be poisonous.

Scientific Name:  Terebra taurina

Common Name:  Flame Auger

Distinguishing Characteristics:  Shell long, heavy, slender, with brown and cream striping.  The whorls near the tip of the spire may have some rib-like ridges.  Maximum size 5 inches.

Scientific Name:  Terebra dislocata

Common Name:  Eastern Auger

Distinguishing Characteristics:  Whorls have 20-25 heavy rib-like ridges.  Each whorl is separated by an inset smaller band that spirals around the shell.  Color varies from grey to a reddish tan.  Maximum size around 2 inches.

Interesting Facts:  Also known as the Atlantic Auger.

Terebra taurina

Flame Auger

Terebra dislocata

Eastern Auger

Cerithium atratum

Florida Cerith

The Ceriths

(Family) Cerithiidae

Distinguishing Characteristics: The Ceriths have small, sharply conical shells with oval apertures.  A very short, faint siphonal canal is visible, and opposite of it is another short canal called an anal canal.  Shells are uniformly small, rarely over an inch long.

Habitat:  These snails live on sandy or rocky bottoms, or near coral reefs in shallow water zones.

Diet:  This family primarily feeds upon algae.

Scientific Name:  Cerithium atratum

Common Name:  Florida cerith

Distinguishing Characteristics:  Shell can be dull white, grey and brown, occasionally speckled with white or brown spots.  Whorls covered with beaded ornamentation and fine threading.  Siphonal canal visible and obvious.  Maximum size 1 inch.

Interesting Facts:  Also known as the Dark Cerith.