Knobbed Whelk (Busycon carica)

SHELL LENGTH: Approximately 8 inches (20.32 cm)

The Knobbed Whelk, Georgia's state shell, is the most common whelk characterized by the knobs on the spire, opening on right, and an orange aperture. Whelks and their egg cases are common on southeastern beaches. Whelks grow up to 12 inches in length and are pear-shaped with the top being wide with a short spire. These univalves prey on bivalves by clasping them with their strong foot and prying apart the shells using the lip of their shell. They are also known to eat carrion and are great shells for Hermit Crabs when they are empty. Whelks can be used as signal horns and are used for chowders. Their egg cases are lightweight and are attached in a string like a necklace with each disc contaning 20-30 eggs or more. The egg case of this species has square edges (pictured below). Many never hatch because their newly hatched siblings eat them. Tiny whelks, miniatures of their parents, first hatch from eggs inside the capsule and then hatch again out of the capsule by eating their way out. Small holes are visible in each capsule where they emerged.
By holding the shell with the opening facing you and the spire pointed up, you can tell the difference between the whelk species.