The Florida Horse Conch (Triplofusus papillosus) is a large tropical marine (saltwater) gastropod mollusc in the Fasciolariidae family of sea spindle snails and tulip snails. It is not a true conch shell from the Strombidae family of sea snails.
The Florida Horse Conch is greyish-white or brownish with a light-brown or dark-brown periostracum, which is the thin coating on its shell. It has a long siphonal canal and up to 10 whorls around its shell. It can retract the soft part of its body entirely into its shell and close the operculum (lid). The soft part of its body is bright orange.
It grows to 60 centimetres (24 inches) in length, which is one the largest marine gastropods in the world.
It is found in the Atlantic Ocean along the coast of North America and Central America. It prefers sandy ocean floors with weeds. It is benthic because it lives on the bottom of the ocean.
It is carnivorous, feeding on other snails and small crabs.
Young Florida Horse Conch shells are bright orange and turn grey-brown with age.
Location of photographs: Parc Zoologique de Paris in Bois de Vincennes, France
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM