Seashells of Florida Beaches – Atlantic Bubble

Bubble Seashells

A collection of Atlantic Bubble seashells found while beachcombing in South Florida.
A collection of Atlantic Bubble seashells found while beachcombing in South Florida. | Source

Atlantic Bubble Seashell

The Atlantic bubble seashell is a common seashell on the beaches of Florida. I have found them here and there on all my beachcombing expeditions. They appear to be more abundant on the west coast of Florida, where I have found them in small bunches. On the east coast, where I do most of my beachcombing, it is rare to find them clustered. Usually you find them scattered up and down the beach.

The sea shells are a round elongated oval shape. They are usually smooth and shiny in mottled browns, running from pale beige to almost chocolate brown. Sometimes they may be a reddish-gray in color. Some may have bands running around them instead of mottling. They have a glossy look which only requires a nice rinse in clean water for the gloss of the shell to come out. The underlying seashell is white to almond colored.

The pale grey looking seashells which have lost much of their luster are shells which have been scoured by windblown sand and bleached by the sun. Even when found in the water, it is probable they spent some time on shore and ended up back in the sea.

The seashells also have a white band at the openings. You can see them in the photo on the seashells that I have turned on their backs. All the Atlantic bubbles have this band but it is more prominent on the larger specimens.

Most of the ones I find are small, not much bigger than a dime, perhaps ½ inch long. According to the various sources on the internet, they can grow up to 1 1/8” (3.8 cm) in length. The largest I found on the beach measured 1 inch long, and I have not found too many at that size. The smaller sizes are much more abundant on the beaches I haunt, suggesting that they die young.

The bubble seashells width is close to ¾ of their length. The ½ inch seashells I measured came out to near 3/8 of an inch wide. This was consistent across all the ones that I measured.

Scoured and Sun Bleached


The Atlantic Bubble Gastropod

The animal that lives inside of these seashells is known as a gastropod. Gastropods are more commonly known as snails and slugs. They are found both on the land and in the water. They inhabit fresh and salt water, from tiny forest pools to the salty oceans. There are thousands of different kinds of gastropods in over 400 families. The Atlantic Bubble gastropod or sea snail is just one of the many that are found in our oceans.

These gastropods live inside their round elongated seashells. They can extend themselves out of the shells to move and eat, and they can contract themselves completely within the shells when threatened or needing rest. They travel around in the same manner as land snails do, by crawling slowly along, only they crawl along the seafloor and whatever else is under the water.

They live in areas with mud flats and sea grasses using them as both their homelands and hunting grounds. Look for the sea snails in estuaries and near shore grass beds. Look for the seashells on beaches that are downstream from those areas. The Common Atlantic Bubble ranges from North Carolina south to Brazil. They can also be found around Bermuda and in the Gulf of Mexico. Guess that makes it all around the Florida coast.

Like many a critter, they spend most of their time searching for something to eat. They do this while trying to avoid becoming a meal themselves. One protection they have is the colors on their seashells. The mottling and bands of brown makes me think of the camouflage clothing an army soldier uses to try to stay hidden from the enemy.

Another protection they have is the ability to burrow under the mud and sand, thereby taking cover from predators. This ability is especially useful doing low tide.

The Atlantic bubble sea snail is not only a prey species but is itself a predator. It feeds on small mollusks – such as clams, scallops, and oysters. An active night feeder that glides across the surface of the seafloor, it envelops and swallows its prey whole.

As the prey passes down toward the stomach to get digested it is crushed. Strong, shell-like hard plates break up the small mollusks the bubble feeds on.

Bubble marine snails, like many snails, have both male and female reproductive organs. These hermaphrodite gastropods fertilize each other’s eggs internally. Fertilized eggs are laid out in long string like coils of jelly-covered eggs. Each coil can contain thousands of eggs and is usually attached to objects in the area – normally sea grass.

When the eggs hatch the young become part of the plankton stream, drifting around and feeding on smaller stuff. When the survivors are developed enough, they will head to the seafloor and grow into the bubble snails whose seashells we find on our beaches.

This bubble seashell is commonly called the Atlantic bubble. Another name for it is the Common Atlantic Bubble. It has also been called the Striate Bubble. Its formal name is bulla striata umbilicata or bulla striata. It belongs to the gastropod family Bullidae.

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Leave your Thoughts Here 24 comments

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for sharing this interesting article.

coffeegginmyrice profile image

coffeegginmyrice 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

Interesting and educational. Will make great reference for the shell collectors. I bet my ma has all (or most) of these shells in her wide collection. You must have a good collection of shells, Angelo. Cheers and more beachcombing!

Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thanks coffeeinmyrice for an excellent comment on my Atlantic Bubble article. I do have quite a few different seashells that I pick up beachcombing the local beaches, and occasionally when on vacation.

unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

shell collecting was one of my fave hobbies way back then. our house was near the ocean so every time i go there, i collect seashells. kinda like it. your hub is beautiful.

Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thanks unknown spy. I like using the seashells from beachcombing, including the Atlantic bubble, in crafts. Another part-time hobby of mine.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

I love collecting shells but I had never heard of the bubble shell before, I learn something new everyday! wonderful info, voted up! nell

Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thanks for the comment Nell.

Olde Cashmere profile image

Olde Cashmere 4 years ago from Michigan, United States

Love the topic and enjoyed your writing on these seashells. Thanks for showing me some new information in a cool way. Voting up, sharing, and rating useful and interesting :)

Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thanks Cashmere. Appreciate the boost to the Atlantic Bubble article.

Lipnancy profile image

Lipnancy 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

Very cool hub. Some of my fondest memories as a child is finding pretty shells on the beach. Great information.

Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Thanks Lipnancy. Happy it brought back good memories for you.

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Angelo. Great hub. We always enjoy combing the beach for shells when we are in Florida and we have come across the Atlantic Bubble Seashell. Hopefully we get down there this winter. Thanks for sharing.

rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Very interesting read Angelo. The sea shells we get on the Mumbai beaches are different.

Voted up, useful interesting and sharing.

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

These are gorgeous! I have a shell collection from the east coast, but I haven't gotten any from Florida yet. I would love to find some of these shells. :)

Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Guess you'll just have to take a beach vacation down here and go beachcombing - never do know what you will find.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Interesting and I agree with Tammy...they are gorgeous! I have never been to Florida but I would love to walk the beaches there some day in search of treasures. Enjoyed this greatly!

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ignugent17 4 years ago

My nephew gave us some seashells from Florida. I am really fascinated by the different forms and shapes. Thanks for the information about bubble shells. :-)

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Angelo-this is a wonderful hub about the Bubble shell. Your information was very helpful. I love shells and enjoy beachcombing when I have the opportunity. I'm looking forward to reading more. Rated up/U/I

Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Billybuc, Ignugent17 and Denise I wish to thank you for your comments. The Atlantic Bubble seashell can be a nice addition to seashell collections and useful as a craft seashell. Of course, getting them off the beach is even better.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Angelo,

This was a very interesting article about the Atlantic Bubble seashell. I picked some of them up from the western beaches of Florida. I liked your angel creation using the different seashells. Nice photo! Voted up and interesting!

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

I always pick up sea shells when I'm on the beach. I have a few of these in my collection but knew nothing about them. I'll have to check out some of your other sea shell hubs. Interesting!

Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Glad you liked the information on the Atlantic Bubble. Thanks for the comment.

Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 3 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Very interesting. I love making things and crafts with seashells.

Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 18 months ago from Oklahoma

Very educational. I enjoyed learning about the shells of Florida.

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