The true tulip snail, Fasciolaria tulipa
, is one of the larger subtidal gastropods found in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). It belongs to the family Fasciolariidae
, which is characterized by: large, elongate, spindle-shaped shells with elevated spires, or points; columellar folds in the shell on the left side of the aperture; long, well-developed siphonal canals at the base of the shell; and thick, horny opercula (Leal 2002).The true tulip is a dextral snail, meaning that the aperture (opening) of the shell is located on the right side when viewing the organism from underneath with the spire pointed upward. Approximately 9 convex whorls make up the whole of the shell, which is smooth except for fine growth lines (e.g. Leal 2002). The background color of the shell varies among individuals from cream to brown to reddish orange, often overlaid with irregular blotches. Numerous interrupted black spiral lines appear across the shell surface, ranging from 25 to 39 in adult snails (Wells 1969). The lines extend onto the lip of the shell, giving it a notched appearance. In living snails, the body is bright orange to red, including the muscular foot that extends out of the shell when the snail is active. The thick operculum is attached to the end of the foot, is brown to black in color, and bears visible concentric growth rings (e.g. Wells 1969).