laura_stowe's picture

Laura_stowe's 1st spot submitted on 14th July 2009

Observed: 14th July 2009 By: laura_stowe

Whilst checking today's weather, I came across this mystery picture. Like the observer, I am also curious to know what it is - any clues anyone?

  • Conch shell (Strombidae family)
    Confidence: It's likely to be this, but I can't be certain.
Species interactions

No interactions present.


the naturalist man's picture


Hello Laura

Welcome to iSpot.

I'm not a expert on exotic shells, I rarely leave these shores of ours.

I think this is a conch shell of some kind, though if it is I very much doubt the photograph was taken in Britain as they mainly live in the Indian Ocean and Caribbean and the photo clearly shows a living animal in the shell.

The shape is typical conch, wide shoulder quickly tapering to a small point at one end and a long tapering off at the other. The apature where the animal comes out is long and thin with a long sphonal groove at the end. Characterisitc of conch shells is the small notch, known as a strombid, on the shell where the eye stalk can look out without the whole body having to emerge; indeed you can see the eye looking out of the strombid on the photo.

The syphonal canal is the groove at the end of the shell where the animal protrudes a rough piece of its body called the radula. The radula acts like a file and wears a hole in the shell of another sea creature. The conch then secretes digetive juices down the canal, digesting the prey in its own shell. It then uses the syphonal canal like a straw 'sucking' up the digested prey. Beats having to have an internal stomach!

Next time you are down on a rocky shore look for a similar shell which also has a syphonal canal - it will be a dog whelk.

As I say I'm not an expert and therefore can not tell you the species, or even the genus. Any Conchologists out there?

Graham Banwell

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