Shell of the Month – October 2022

Oliva bifasciata Weinkauff, 1878

Oliva bifasciata Weinkauff, 1878is our Broward county olive. It’s range starts at the Palm Beach County line and goes south off shore through the Florida Keys.  Of interest is that north of Browad County it is replaced by Oliva sayana. The two do not appear to overlap.

This attractive little olive of about one an a half to two inches in length comes in three varieties. The common is wheat colored and completely covered with fine dashes and lines. The second variety is milk white and almost void of decoration. The third has two chocolate brown bands that wide in width as the shell grows. The varieties appear to be location specific. 

Until recently they were abundant living in sand near our Florida reefs. The receding tide would usually reveal a few fresh dead specimens and a tropical storm more than one could collect.

Sadly  beach restoration projects and pollution have made these rather scarce

Oliva bifasciata is known as the Netted Olive although that name belongs to Oliva reticularis Lamarck, 1811 a very closely related species from the Bahamas.  When R. Tucker Abbot wrote his then definitive “American Seashells” he called these shells Oliva reticularis, delegating bifasciata as a synonym along with several other names. It is common to see that name used in older collections. 

As this is a local species, it would be interesting to hear our members’s collecting experiences. These specimens were dredged in a sand restoration project in Hollywood Beach in the early 1990s.

From the collection of Richard Kent