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Seashells on a beach in the Turks and Caicos.

Turks and Caicos Seashell Identification

beautiful sea shells from the Turks and Caicos
Seashells from the Turks and Caicos!

The spectacular beaches of the Turks and Caicos hide a wide array of beautiful and intricate seashells. Unfortunately, of the best beachcombing sites tend to far from the popular beaches in The Turks and Caicos.

On the island of Providenciales, Grace Bay Beach, Leeward Beach, the Bight Beach, and the snorkelling sites of Smith's Reef and the Bight Reef are part of the Princess Alexandra National Park, where it's illegal to take and natural object or historical artefact.

Shelling

On the sandy beaches in the Turks and Caicos, bivalves such as cockle (especially the glossy white egg cockle), scallop, wing, ark and lucine shells are the most common finds. The calico scallop and zebra ark tend to be the most colourful of these plentiful bivalves. The small milk moon shell, lettered olive, and bubble shells are likewise typical finds.

When shelling, it’s important to consider how a coast is exposed to the swell and rough ocean conditions. In the Turks and Caicos, fragile species such as worm shells, tuns, and murex shells often don’t survive in one piece on the rocky coasts. The exposed coasts are however great places to see small bits of coral.

Some of the larger finds include a collection of conchs, including the ever popular queen conch, king helmet, Triton’s trumpet (which by length is the largest shell found in our waters), and horse conch. Sea stars are found throughout the Turks and Caicos, yet it’s uncommon to find examples washed ashore that can be collected.

How Local Shelling Differs from Florida

The Turks and Caicos does share quite a bit of commonality of species with Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and popular Florida Cays destinations such as Sanibel Island.

Whelk shells are notably uncommon in the Turks and Caicos, as are the larger scallops, clams, and lion paw shells.

Turks and Caicos triton and murex shells.

Triton and Murex Shells

Atlantic hairy triton
Cymatium aquatile
Max Size: 3.9 inches (100mm)
Angular triton
Cymatium femorale
Max Size: 7.9 inches (200mm)
Dog head triton
Ranularia cynocephalum
Max Size: 2.6 inches (65mm)
Apple murex
Phyllonotus pomum
Max Size: 5.1 inches (130mm)
Turks and Caicos cowrie shells.

Cowrie Shells

Atlantic gray cowrie
Luria cinerea
Max Size: 2.0 inches (50mm)
Flamingo tongue
Cyphoma gibbosum
Max Size: 1.4 inches (35mm)
Atlantic yellow cowrie
Cypraea spurca acicularis
Max Size: 1.3 inches (32mm)
Measled cowrie
Macrocypraea zebra
Max Size: 3.5 inches (90mm)
Reticulated cowrie helmet
Cypraecassis testiculus
Max Size: 3.2 inches (82mm)
Scotch bonnet
Semicassis granulata
Max Size: 3.3 inches (85mm)
Turks and Caicos tulip shells, star shells, tun shells and natica shells.

Tulip, Star, Natica, and Tun Shells

True tulip
Fasciolaria tulipa
Max Size: 9.4 inches (240mm)
True tulip (brown variant)
Fasciolaria tulipa
Max Size: 9.4 inches (240mm)
American star
Lithopoma americanum
Max Size: 1.6 inches (40mm)
Long-spined star
Astraea phoebia
Max Size: 2.4 inches (62mm)
West Indian top shell
Cittarium pica
Max Size: 4.7 inches (120mm)
Partridge tun
Tonna perdix
Max Size: 4.9 inches (125mm)
Colourful Atlantic moonshell
Naticarius canrena
Max Size: 2.4 inches (60mm)
Wide-mouthed purpura
Purpura patula
Max Size: 3.0 inches (75mm)
Turks and Caicos bivalve shells.

Bivalves, Tellins, and Scallops

Sunrise tellin
Tellina radiata
Max Size: 3.0 inches (75mm)
Speckled tellin
Tellinella listeri
Max Size: 2.8 inches (70mm)
Faust tellin
Arcopagia fausta
Max Size: 3.0 inches (75mm)
Gaudy asaphis
Asaphis deflorata
Max Size: 2.2 inches (55mm)
Lima
Lima scabra tenera
Max Size: 2.0 inches (52mm)
Cross-barred venus
Chione cancellata
Max Size: 1.0 inch (25mm)
Zebra ark
Arca zebra
Max Size: 3.1 inches (80mm)
Little knobby scallop
Chlamys imbricatus
Max Size: 1.6 inches (40mm)
Tiger lucine
Codakia orbicularis
Max Size: 3.1 inches (80mm)
Ark
Anadara transversa
Max Size: 2.4 inches (60mm)
Atlantic thorny oyster
Spondylus americanus
Max Size: 3.9 inches (100mm)
Giant bittersweet
Glycymeris americana
Max Size: 1.3 inches (32mm)
Nucleus scallop
Argopecten nucleus
Max Size: 1.6 inches (40mm)
Small conch shells.

Small Conchs

Hawkwing conch
Strombus raninus
Max Size: 3.1 inches (80mm)
Juvenile hawkwing conch
Strombus raninus
Max Size: 3.1 inches (80mm)
Milk conch
Lobatus costatus
Max Size: 5.5 inches (140mm)
Juvenile queen conch
Lobatus gigas
Max Size: 14 inches (350mm)
Small seashells from the Turks and Caicos.

Small Shells

Lettered olive
Oliva sayana
Max Size: 2.4 inches (60mm)
Crown cone
Conus regius
Max Size: 2.8 inches (70mm)
Common dove shell
Columbella mercatoris Linne
Max Size: 0.5 inches (13mm)
Giant Atlantic pyram
Pyramidella dolabrata dolabrata
Max Size: 1.0 inch (25mm)
Tessellate nerite
Nerita tessellata
Max Size: 1.0 inch (25mm)
Deltoid rock shell
Vasula deltoidea
Max Size: 2.0 inches (52mm)
Florida rock shell
Stramonita haemastoma floridana
Max Size: 2.4 inches (60mm)
Coffee bean trivia
Pusula pediculus
Max Size: 0.5 inches (13mm)
Common spirula
Spirula spirula
Max Size: 1.0 inch (25mm)
Bubble shell
Bulla striata
Max Size: 1.0 inch (25mm)
Land snail
Cerion lewisi
Max Size: 1.1 inches (28mm)
Cuban brown snail
Zachrysia provisoria
Max Size: 1.2 inches (30mm)
Atlantic morum
Morum oniscus
Max Size: 1.0 inch (25mm)
Carrot cone
Conus daucus
Max Size: 1.2 inches (30mm)
Stocky cerith
Cerithium litteratum
Max Size: 1.2 inches (30mm)
Mangrove periwinkle
Littorina angulifera
Max Size: 1.1 inches (28mm)
Barbados mitre
Mitra barbadensis
Max Size: 1.3 inches (32mm)
Beaded mitre
Mitra nodulosa
Max Size: 1.2 inches (30mm)
Limpet shells
Acmaeidae
Max Size: 1.2 inches (30mm)
Large conchs and tritons.

Large Shells

Queen conch
Lobatus gigas
Max Size: 14 inches (350mm)
King helmet
Cassis tuberosa
Max Size: 12 inches (300mm)
Triton's trumpet
Charonia tritonis
Max Size: 24 inches (600mm)