Overview

Distribution

Geographic Range

These are marine animals and are found from North Carolina to Florida and into Mexico.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); atlantic ocean (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

The Florida horse conch is the largest snail to be found in the American waters, sometimes reaching a length of two feet. It has ten whorls, and its shoulders bear large, low nodules. The operculum is a leathery brown color, the aperture is orange, and the animal itself is brick red in color.

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Ecology

Habitat

The Florida horse conch lives among the sand and weeds in the shallow marine waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Aquatic Biomes: coastal

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Depth range based on 23 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 7 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 13 - 68
  Temperature range (°C): 22.044 - 24.323
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.534 - 2.951
  Salinity (PPS): 35.982 - 36.325
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.350 - 4.890
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.118 - 0.283
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.193 - 2.001

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 13 - 68

Temperature range (°C): 22.044 - 24.323

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.534 - 2.951

Salinity (PPS): 35.982 - 36.325

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.350 - 4.890

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.118 - 0.283

Silicate (umol/l): 1.193 - 2.001
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

The Florida horse conch are carnivores that feed on bivalves and other snails.

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Reproduction is sexual. The female attaches capsule-like structures to rock or old shell. Each capsule contains several dozen eggs for the young snails to feed upon. The capsule contains 5-6 circular rims, and they are laid in clumps. The young emerge and are an orange color, approximately 3.5 inches in diameter.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

The Florida horse conch is very common and is found quite easily around the Florida coast in the Atlantic ocean.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Florida horse conchs are used as food and are said to taste "peppery." They also eat other bivalves that may sometimes be pests to man.

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Wikipedia

Triplofusus giganteus

Triplofusus giganteus, previously known as Pleuroploca gigantea, common name the Florida horse conch, is a species of extremely large predatory subtropical and tropical sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusc in the family Fasciolariidae, the spindle snails, tulip snails and their allies.[1][2]

Although known as a horse conch, this is not a true conch, as it is not in the family Strombidae.

This species is the largest gastropod in the American waters,[3] and one of the largest univalves in the world.

Anatomy[edit]

The animal can retract the soft parts entirely into the shell and close it with the operculum. The soft parts are bright orange in color.

Shell description[edit]

This species shell length can reach 24 inches (600 mm).[3]

The outline of the shell is somewhat fusiform, with a long siphonal canal, and having up to 10[3] whorls. Its sculpture present several spiral cords and axial ribs, some of which can form knobs on the whorls shoulders.[3]

The shell color is bright orange in very young individuals. The shell often becomes greyish white to salmon-orange when adult, with a light tan or dark brown periostracum.[3]

Distribution[edit]

This large sea snail is found along the Atlantic coast of the Americas from the U.S. state of North Carolina to the north, to Yucatán in the Gulf of Mexico to the south.[3]

Ecology[edit]

A horse conch feeding on the queen conch, Eustrombus gigas, in Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Habitat[edit]

This species dwells on sand, weed and mud flats from the low intertidal to shallow subtidal zones,[3] in 20 foot (6 m) deep water.

Feeding habits[edit]

Triplofusus giganteus is a carnivorous predatory species, and feeds on other large marine gastropods, including the tulip shell (Fasciolaria tuplipa), the lightning whelk (Busycon perversum), and the queen conch (Eustrombus gigas) as well as some Murex species.[4][5] It may also present cannibalistic behaviour, feeding on smaller conspecific individuals.[4] It has been observed (in an aquarium setting) to eat small hermit crabs of the species Clibanarius vittatus.

Human use[edit]

Modern times[edit]

The U.S. state of Florida declared it the state seashell in 1969. The shell is popular with shell collectors partly because of its great size.

Archaeological and anthropological uses[edit]

In classic Mayan art, the Horse Conch is shown being utilised in many ways including as paint and ink holders for elite scribes, and also as a bugle or trumpet.

In southern Florida, Native Americans, including the Calusa and Tequesta, used the horse conch to make several types of artifact. The whole shell, or more commonly only the columella, was attached to a wooden handle and used as a hammer or woodworking tool. The body whorl was used as a drinking cup. The columella was also used to make plummets or sinkers.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Triplofusus giganteus (Kiener, 1840).  Retrieved through: World Register of Marine Species on 25 August 2012.
  2. ^ Rosenberg, G., F. Moretzsohn, and E. F. García. 2009. Gastropoda (Mollusca) of the Gulf of Mexico, Pp. 579–699 in Felder, D.L. and D.K. Camp (eds.), Gulf of Mexico–Origins, Waters, and Biota. Biodiversity. Texas A&M Press, College Station, Texas.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Leal, J.H. (2002). Gastropods. p. 99-147. In: Carpenter, K.E. (ed.). The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Volume 1: Introduction, molluscs, crustaceans, hagfishes, sharks, batoid fishes, and chimaeras. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes and American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Special Publication No. 5. 1600p. PDF
  4. ^ a b Wells F. E., Walker D. I. & Jones D. S. (eds.) (2003). Food of giants – field observations on the diet of Syrinx aruanus (Linnaeus, 1758) (Turbinellidae) the largest living gastropod. The Marine Flora and Fauna of Dampier, Western Australia. Western Australian Museum, Perth.
  5. ^ Toller, W.; Lewis, K-A. (2003). Queen Conch Strombus gigas. U.S.V.I. Animal Fact Sheet 19. U.S.V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildife. 
  • Rosenberg, G. 1992. Encyclopedia of Seashells. Dorset: New York. 224 pp. page(s): 91
  • Rosenberg, G., F. Moretzsohn, and E. F. García. 2009. Gastropoda (Mollusca) of the Gulf of Mexico, Pp. 579–699 in Felder, D.L. and D.K. Camp (eds.), Gulf of Mexico–Origins, Waters, and Biota. Biodiversity. Texas A&M Press, College Station, Texas.
  • Snyder M.A., Vermeij G.J. & Lyons W.G. (2012) The genera and biogeography of Fasciolariinae (Gastropoda, Neogastropoda, Fasciolariidae). Basteria 76(1-3): 31-70
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