Melongena corona (Gmelin, 1791) Florida Crown Conch
Melongena corona, the Crown Conch, inhabits the shore line of the Gulf of Mexico, especially the west coast of Florida. It has several closely related species and itself several named varieties. It is variable in size, shape, intensity of color an of particular interest the number and size of the should spines, its Crown of Thorns. Typical specimens reach an adult size of three inches, this one is about four and the rare well fed specimen may reach five inches.
The Crown Conch is cream in color encircled by light to dark brown bands. It has a wide mouth, a claw shaped operculum, and its shoulder is adorned with short atubby spines forming the crown. It is a predator, particularly fond of oysters but will eat any bivalve it comes across. Despite its name, it is not a conch.
This large distinctive specimen, with its outstanding crown, was donated by Robert Marchiselli, a Tampa Bay area shell dealer.