Range/Geographical Distribution: Along the coast from New Jersey to Texas.
Habitat: Estuarine waters in creeks and among oyster beds.
Description: Easily recognizable by the leftward spiraling shell. Adults are grey with a glossy white aperture; juveniles have brown/orange “lighting-bolt” stripes that fade as they grow.
Size: Can reach 16 inches in length.
Food: Clams and other bivalves.
Breeding: Mate in the fall and winter; fertilization is internal. Females lay strings of thick, disk-like egg capsules, up to a yard in length and an inch and a half in diameter, anchored in the sand. Juveniles grow slowly and hatch in three to 13 months.
Predators: Sea turtles, and blue crabs.
Conservation Status: No legal status.
Interesting Facts: When sea water temperature are outside of the optimum range of 77-82˚F, feeding rates and crawling speeds of lightning whelks decrease.
On the Coast: Lightning whelks are less common than other whelks along the Georgia coast but their shells can be found washed up on the beaches.