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Collecting seashells on the beaches of Sanibel, Captiva and the world

Difference Between Lightning, Pear, Knobbed, Channeled Whelks

Posted by on Sep 24, 2013 in Channeled Whelk, Knobbed Whelk, Lightning Whelk, Pear Whelk, Right handed Lightning Whelk, Whelk | 33 comments

4 different similar whelks

I am obsessed with shells. I love to hunt for shells, collect different species of shells, travel for shells, learn about shells and research shells. So I have been like a pit bull with a bone ever since Shellabaloo 3 when an unusual shell showed up at our Shell ‘N Tell.

knobbed whelk sanibel foreign shell

Was is really a right-handed LIGHTNING WHELK? Or was it a KNOBBED WHELK (Busycon carica) just displaced????? LIGHTNING WHELKS are the only left handed shell in Florida so to find a right-handed would be so cool. I am so excitable when I see a “local” shell (Southwest Florida) I haven’t seen before so my mind starts racing. After I wrote the post Seashells And Beach Bling at Shellabaloo 3 Shell ‘N Tell, I just had to look into it further about that WHELK Gregg found. Something wasn’t sitting right with me. Somehting else looked a little different about that whelk other than just the opening…. was it really from this area? Hmmmm.  Then I got an email from another Shellabalooer, Marie, who said after she was sorting through her shells when she got home, she realized she found one of those right-handed whelks too. What??? What are the odds???

marie photo of whelks

OMG. It was sitting on her tray at the Shell ‘N Tell and I didn’t even see it! Here’s the photo I put on the blog post. Can you see it now? LOL

marie shellabaloo 3 shell n tell sanibel

So I started racing through my shell collection of LIGHTNING WHELKS. Have I found a RIGHT-HANDED LIGHTNING WHELK before and just didn’t realize it?

lightning welks welk left handed

Well, No. I didn’t find one in our collection. Dang it!

While we visited the Baily-Matthews Shell Museum, Dr. Leal said something like “one in 10,000 LIGHTNING WHELKS are right-handed” … or something like that. Sorry if I got that number wrong but all I know is that he said it was a very rare find.   So then…

While I was visiting my mom and family in Virginia Beach earlier this month, I helped my mom organize some her shells from her closet she had stacked up in shoe boxes.  Aha! This looks like Gregg’s right-handed shell. These were a few shells that were collected years ago from the Outer Banks of North Carolina (or they could have been found after a Nor-Easter on Virginia Beach- we cant recall) that looked just like his shell. They are KNOBBED WHELKS !!

knobbed whelks atlantic ocean

Now that I had one in my hand, I knew that this was the same shell that Gregg and Marie found here on our beaches of Sanibel and Captiva. So they didn’t find rare right handed LIGHTNING WHELKS after all, they found KNOBBED WHELKS like these.

east coast shells knobbed whelkseast coast shells knobbed whelks

After getting back home (with a few of my mom’s shells- heehee), I lined up all of the WHELKS. Now you can see the differences of all of the WHELKS too. Unfortunately, I don’t have a right-handed LIGHTNING WHELK to put in the line-up but you can see the rest of them.

From left to right- LIGHTNING WHELK (Sanibel), PEAR WHELK (Sanibel), KNOBBED WHELK (Outer Banks, North Carolina – OBX), CHANNELED WHELK (OBX).

4 different similar whelks

differences whelks aperture lightning pear knobbed channeled

You can see by the shape of the spire, and the “tail” the differences are from the LIGHTNING WHELK (left) and  KNOBBED WHELK (right)

compare lightning whelk to knobbed welk

This view gives you lots of differences…especially since the LIGHTNING’s aperture opens on the left.

difference lightning whelk knobbed whelk

Since the CHANNELED WHELK (left) and PEAR WHELK (right) look so similar, I thought I’d show the different views here as well…

channeled whelk pear whelk

Remember, we don’t have CHANNELED WHELKS (Busycon canaliculatum) here on the southwest coast of Florida either but we do have the PEAR WHELKS.

difference channeled whelk pear welk

This is what Dr Leal and I concluded from the mystery of these found KNOBBED WHELKS (not right handed lightning whelks) on Sanibel/Captiva. People return shells to the sea- no matter where they found them. I have heard countless times (really, I hear this sooooo often!) that people will find a box of shells they collected from various places over the years but they want to get rid of them. They decide to take them back to the beach that is convenient. OR… they buy shells to scatter on the beach for a party, wedding or so their kids will have different shells to find. Then they leave them and the high tide takes them away and the end up washing back in like they were from the gulf. It happens. That’s why people find so many “foreign” shells here on Sanibel. So for our group to find TWO right handed lightning whelks in one week, errrrr….. even though we find the BEST beaches for our Shellabaloo shellers while they are here …. I think we found somebody’s old shells they collected from the Atlantic Ocean that they scattered on Sanibel.

whelk spire lightning pear knobbed chenneled

So know we know the differences between a LIGHTNING, PEAR, KNOBBED and CHANNELED WHELK!

4 different similar whelks

Join us for the next Shellabaloo January 6-9, 2014 or some of our other shelling adventures by


shelling adventures trips by pam


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Seashells and Beach Bling at Shellabaloo 3 Shell ‘N Tell

Posted by on Sep 1, 2013 in Arrowhead Sand Dollar, Jewelry, Right handed Lightning Whelk, Shellabaloo, Shellabaloo 3 | 35 comments

Shell N Tell Shellabaloo 3

On your marks… Get set! It’s time for Shell ‘N Tell!  Our last night together at Island Inn Sanibel for Shellabaloo 3 was one of my favorite evenings because I got to see everybody’s exshellent shells they collected throughout the week and to see how well they did for their Shellinger Hunt. On the first night, I gave each sheller a scroll with a list of shells and Beach Bling to find throughout the week to display their fave finds and listed items on the last night for Shell ‘N Tell. The day before the festivities began, my kitty Dustie helped me prepare their scrolls…

shellinger hunt dustie

I was so amazed and tickled at all of the cool shells in awesome displays for our mini shell show! Here is Lou (FL) with her trays with SHARKS TEETH FOSSILS, the SANIBEL SIX, BEACH BLING and a MACULATED BABY’S EAR (you can see it better in the first photo).

lou shell n tell shellabaloo 3 sanibel bling

seashells beach bling iLoveShelling

Can’t you just see the fun Donny (Port St. John, FL) was having by that smile? Ha! That’s true beach treasure!

donny shell n tell shellabaloo 3 sanibel

donny shellinger hunt

Love, love, love how everybody showed their different display styles and different shells and bling like Marie (Kansas).

marie shellabaloo 3 shell n tell sanibel

See? Look how sweet that SAND DOLLAR is encircled with OLIVES, CONCHS, AUGERS,WHELKS, SLIPPERS and white clam shells. I love the red vegetation too!

seashells beach bling marie iLoveShelling shellabaloo 3


Martha (AR) made a simply elegant display!

martha shell n tell sanibel shellabaloo 3

She added some beautiful greenery to her shells and cool Beach Bling items of a TARPON SCALE, piece of CORAL and a metal stake. LOL I just loooove the humor of shellers!

martha shellinger hunt sanibel

Cathy (St Augustine, FL) had some awesome finds!

cathy shell n tell shellabloo 3 sanibel beach bling

See that big green thing in the middle top? That is part of a PANCAKE SAND DOLLAR she found at Cayo Costa. Such cool stuff! And dont miss the beautiful color of the LIGHTNING WHELK bottom left…

Cathy seashells beach bling shellabaloo 3 sanibel

Oh Angela (Windermere, FL), you are so cute! It’s amazing to see how many different varieties of shells you found…

angela shell n tell shellabaloo 3 sanibel seashells

angela seashells beach bling shellabaloo 3

OMG Jennifer (Ottawa, Canada)! You found so many big beautiful shells!

jennifer shell n tell sanibel shellabaloo 3

jennifer shell n tell sanibel shellinger hunt

Marisa (Ottawa, Canada) wasn’t sure if she was going to love shelling or not when her mom Jennifer asked her to come with her to Shellabaloo at the Island Inn. By the end of our shelling week, she looked like she was just as “into” finding shells and beach treasures as every body else. And look at the great ones she found!

marisa shell n tell shellabaloo 3

Annette and Jim (IL) were so much fun to hang around with for the week. And they had some great luck finding some awesome shells too…

annette jim shellabaloo 3 shell n tell

As you’ve probably noticed, some the Shellinger Hunt items listed were… “Find 10 KITTENS PAWS then display them in a COCKLE SHELL.” and “Find a dozen JINGLES and display them in any large BIVALVE shell.” Since I loves me some Beach Bling, They had them find 2 pieces of Beach Bling as well. Annette found 2 OPERCULUMS!

annette shell n tell shellabaloo 3 seashells

Jim found an OPERCULAUM as well and did a nice job of  … “Find 5 DOUBLE COQUINAS with different colors”.

jim shell n tell sanibel seashells beach bling

Nancy (San Diego, CA) had a gorgeous display with her very cool ARROWHEAD SAND DOLLAR she found while snorkeling at Cayo Costa.

nancy shell and tell sanibel shellabloo 3

She found 2 gorgeous LACE MUREXES and SHARKS EYES as well.

shell n tell shellabaloo 3 sanibel nancy

Trish (CO) added some doilies to spruce up her already beautiful display…

trish shell n tell sanibel shellabaloo 3

Her husband Gregg had some oh so fab shells too!

gregg shell n tell sanibel shellabaloo 3

Here are Gregg and Trish’s shells combined to make a gorgeous display with flower petals added for color. Fabulous!

shellabaloo 2 seashells and beach bling

After being overwhelmed at seeing everybody’s shells all at one time, I tried to take my time and look back through some of the shells again. I got back to Gregg and Trish’s display and looked again at the WHELKS. OH MY GOODNESS! “EVERYBODY COME HERE!” I shouted.   Look what Gregg found!

gregg right hand whelk


*UPDATE: Oops! After lots of research and talks with Dr. Leal, we’ve come to the conclusion that this is a KNOBBED WHELK…. not a right-handed lightning whelk.

He had no idea it was special and just put it in his favorites pile along with all the other WHELKS and CONCHS. Yes! It should be in your favorites pile! We went to the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum at the beginning of our shelling tour where Dr. Jose Leal had mentioned to us that the LIGHTNING WHELK was the only left handed gastropod in our area. It is extremely rare to find a RIGHT HANDED LIGHTNING WHELK.

right handed whelk shellabaloo 3

But back to the Shellinger Hunt results! The winner was based on points scored from each of my questions and treasure hunt finds listed on the hunt rules. Thank goodness Super Sheller Clark was there to help with the judging because it was very close. Drum Roll Please…..

Congratshellations! The highest score is Lou!


winner shell n tell lou sea life by congress junonia necklace

 Thank you Sealife By Congress for generously donating an amazing prize of a stunning silver JUNONIA pendant on a silver chain!

junonia necklace sealife by congress iLoveShelling

On the first night, I had announced the winner’s prize of the necklace and let everybody get a glimpse of what the Shellinger Hunt winner would receive. Do I look excited or what? hahaha It’s from my favorite jewelry store. Thanks Jessica (from Hillgate Communications) for the photo!

junonia necklace sea life by congress

Lou was a happy, happy gal to wear her new fab  JUNONIA necklace.

lou junonia necklace sea life by congress

Our 5 day shelling adventure brought a group of kindred spirits together for a shelling trip of a lifetime. We started as shellers and bonded as friends.

shellabaloo 3 shellers on beach sanibel island inn

Clark and I thank Island Inn Sanibel for organizing this unforgettably shellacious event and hope to be announcing dates for the next Shellabaloo very soon -you will be the first to know. We’re already looking forward to Shellabaloo 4!

pam clark rambo sanibel beach

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