Lettered Olive Snail
Range/Geographical Distribution: North Carolina to Gulf of Mexico and Brazil.
Habitat: Nearshore waters on shallow sand flats and near inlets.
Description: Shiny, cylindrical shell with chestnut-brown scrawled markings on it. Has a low, pointed spire, four or five body whorls, and no operculum.
Size: Can reach three inches in length.
Food: Coquina and other small, smooth-surfaced clams.
Breeding: Lays 20-50 eggs on the sand in transparent capsules. Eggs develop into veliger larvae within a week. The veligers break out of their capsule and live in a planktonic form prior to developing into adults.
Predators: Birds, fish, and crabs.
Conservation Status: No legal status.
Interesting Facts: Native Americans made necklaces of these handsome shells and in the early 1900s they were collected and strung to make portières (door-curtains) to sell to tourists. Sometimes common Atlantic slipper shells (Crepidula fornicata) can be found attached to the surface of a lettered olive, riding piggyback.
On the Coast: Lettered olive shells commonly wash up on Georgia’s beaches and are a prized favorite of beachcombers.