Marine Mollusk Eggcases

Eggcase clusters/strings include: Lace Murex (top left), Pear Whelk (top right), Tulip (center left), Tulip eggcases on a Skate eggcase (center), King's Crown (center right), Florida Horse Conch (bottom left), Apple Murex (bottom right), Lightning Whelk (not shown here).

[Introduction] - [Examples]


Beachcombers sometimes find curiosities washed ashore, especially after a storm. These curiosities take on a variety of forms, but the most common forms found may resemble skeleton-like strings, or sponge-like masses of tiny capsules. Sailors were known to use some of these curiosities as "soap" or scrubbing tools. Little did they know that these strange objects are the nurseries of mollusk shells.

Many gastropod mollusks (snails) lay their eggs in containers or cases to protect their developing young from the water environment. These eggcases are often laid in clusters or strings and may be attached to rocks, shells, or other eggcases. Once developed, the young emerge from the cases to begin life in "the real world."

The eggcases shown here are just a few of the more common types that might be found along the north Gulf of Mexico shoreline. Examples of other marine mollusk eggcases can be found in Beatrice Winner's books -- A Field Guide to Molluscan Spawn, Volumes I and II.


The following links provide a closer look at some of the above eggcase examples.
Florida Horse Conch - Pleuroploca gigantea (Kiener, 1840)
(Single case, plus juvenile shell)

King's Crown - Melongena corona (Gemlin, 1791)

Murex Eggcases
Apple Murex - Phyllonotus pomum (Gemlin, 1791)
(Single case, plus several juveniles)

Lace Murex - Chicoreus florifer dilectus A. Adams, 1855
(Two cases and several juvenile shells)

Tulip Eggcases
Banded Tulip - Fasciolaria lilium hunteria (G. Perry, 1811)
(Single case, plus juvenile shell)

True Tulip - Fasciolaria tulipa (Linné, 1758)
(Single case, plus several juvenile shells)

Whelk Eggcases
Lightning Whelk - Busycon contrarium (Conrad, 1840)
Lightning Whelk eggcase string (larger one on left) and Pear Whelk string (smaller one on right). (Note that some Banded Tulip eggcases are attached to the Lightning Whelk string.) Insert: juvenile Lightning Whelk.

Pear Whelk - Busycon spiratum (Say, 1822)
(Single case, plus portion of eggcase string)

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© 1997 by Deborah Wills (
This page has been accessed times since 23 August 1997.
Last Revised: 25 August 1997