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Central and South Florida Gastropod Seashell Identification Guide: Nerites, Periwinkles, Turbans, and Wentletraps

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

Common Bleeding Tooth

Littoraria irrorata

Marsh Periwinkle

Turbo castanea

Chestnut Turban

Sthenorytis pernobilis

Noble Wentletrap

Cirsotrema dalli

Dall Wentletrap


(Family) Neritidae

Distinguishing Characteristics: The Nerites have strong, circular shells with a single large body whorl and few large, obvious whorls.  Their columella is often very visible by their inner lip, and are often notched to give it a toothlike appearance.  They lack a siphonal canal.

Habitat:  These snails on rocks right at the water's edge.

Diet:  This family primarily feeds upon clams and worms.

Scientific Name:  Nerita peloronta

Common Name:  Common Bleeding Tooth

Distinguishing Characteristics:  The Bleeding Tooth is easily recognized by the notched columella.  The base of the two white teeth are surrounded by a bright orange blotch, giving the species its common name.  Maximum size 2 inches.


(Family) Littorinidae

Distinguishing Characteristics: The Periwinkles have low, conical shells with a relatively large body whorl and a high pointed spire.  Their aperture forms a suction-cup like structure without a siphonal canal.

Habitat:  These snails prefer to live in a wide variety of habitats.  They prefer to live on the water's edge, sometimes surviving entirely outside of water to avoid predators. 

Diet:  This family feeds on algae that grow on rocks and grasses.

Scientific Name:  Littoraria irrorata

Common Name:  Marsh Periwinkle

Distinguishing Characteristics:  Shell can be grey to cream, with brown spiral lines or occasional brown blotching.  Maximum size 1 inch.


(Family) Turbinidae

Distinguishing Characteristics: The Turbans have wide, heavy, coneline shells that spiral upwards from the aperture.  The aperture is often round or a flattened oval.  They lack a siphonal canal.  The shell is studded with beadlike ornamentation.

Habitat:  These snails prefer to live in sandy and muddy bottoms in water up to 450 feet.

Diet:  This family exclusively feeds upon algae.

Scientific Name:  Turbo castanea

Common Name:  Chestnut Turban

Distinguishing Characteristics:  Shell covered with small beads and sometimes spines.  Shell color variable, though often different mottled shades of brown.  Shell composed of five to six whorls.  Aperture almost perfectly circular.  Maximum size 2 inches.


(Family) Epitoniidae

Distinguishing Characteristics: The Wentletraps have small, conical shells with strong whorls and distinct riblike ridges.  Aperture is round or oval and there is no siphonal canal.

Habitat:  These snails prefer to live in deep offshore waters, but their shells are often occupied by hermit crabs.

Diet:  This family primarily feeds upon living anenomes and corals.

Scientific Name:  Sthenorytis pernobilis

Common Name:  Noble Wentletrap

Distinguishing Characteristics:  Shell solid and strong, often beautifully sculptured.  Whorls have 12-14 ribs that taper to a thin, bladelike edge.  Maximum size 2 inches.

Interesting Facts:  The Noble Wentletrap is a rare find and a collector's item, making them worth a lot of money.

Scientific Name:  Cirsotrema dalli

Common Name:  Dall Wentletrap

Distinguishing Characteristics:  Shell chalky, colored grey to tan.  Two to three ridges enlarged per whorl, and pitting can occur to give the shell a sievelike appearance.  Maximum size around 1.4 inches.

Interesting Facts:  May also be known as Dall's Wentletrap.