Lettered Olive (Oliva sayana)

SHELL LENGTH: Approximately 3 inches (7.62 cm)

Cylindrical in shape, this smooth and shiny shell grows up to three inches in length. This state shell of South Carolina is tan to gray with brown zigzag markings resembling script writing, thus giving the Lettered Olive its name. Because of bleaching and wave action, there may not be any markings on the shell, resulting in a dull white color. Even without the zigzag markings, a short, pointed spire and long, narrow aperture easily identify olive shells. They live in sandy bottom areas from the low tide to 150 feet deep. The Lettered Olive is a carnivore, preying on some bivalves such as clams, cockles, mussels, and coquinas. They are also known to scavenge.