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Cone Sea Shells

Updated on May 22, 2013
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Bronwen and her family have enjoyed collecting many things, including fans, clocks, books and shells.

Textile Cones
Textile Cones | Source

Conidae Sea Shells

Cone sea shells belong to the family of the marine snail family known as gastropods. They are the Conidae. There are over four hundred species of cone sea shells that are found in the warm, tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific and about fifty that are found in countries bordering the Atlantic.There is quite a variety that can be easily found so they are fun to collect.

Some Interesting Points About Cone Sea Shells

  • An Ancient species: Cone sea shells are descended from an ancient type of seashell and over a hundred fossil species have been identified so far by paleontologists who specialise in conchology.
  • Shape and Weight: Members of Conidae sea shells are comparatively heavy and usually have broad spires that are not very tall, in fact most of their spires are rather flattened and squat.
  • Size: Most are around 3 - 4 inches long, but some, like the Prometheus Cone of West Africa will grow to 12 inches long. Others are minute like the Hebrew Cone which varies from only ½ to 1½ inches.
  • Food: Cones feed on worms and small worms and are carnivorous.
  • Habitat: Shallow water, coral reefs and under rocks.
  • Reproduction: They lay eggs that are found in small, flat, leaf-like capsules, usually attached to the underside protrusions of rocks.

Reverse of Textile Cones
Reverse of Textile Cones | Source

Textile Cones

Textile Cones, such as the Conus textile, grow to three or four inches long. They are attractive with tiny, often triangular markings rather like woven textile, hence their name.

Some in this group are larger, such as the Glory-of-the-seas (Conus gloria-maris Chemnitz) and the Geography Cone (Conus geographus Linné) which grow to five inches long. The textile pattern on the latter looks a little like a map, while the Glory-of-the-seas has a longer turret; it used to be very rare and was once the most valuable shell in the world. Both these are venomous.

Marble Cone
Marble Cone | Source

The Marble Cone

Marble Cones (Conus marmoreus Linné) are quite noticeable among other cones because of their bold, marble-like pattern. They grow to four inches and are common in the Indo-Pacific regions. While some types of Cones can come in an albino form, this one rarely does so.

Hebrew Cones and Pacific Lettered Cone
Hebrew Cones and Pacific Lettered Cone | Source
Reverse of Hebrew and Pacific Lettered Cones
Reverse of Hebrew and Pacific Lettered Cones | Source

Hebrew and Pacific Lettered Cones

These, like the Marble Cone, are common Indo-Pacific Cones. They live in sand, hiding in it during the day and coming out at night to find their food, which is mostly marine worms.

  • Hebrew Cones (Conus ebraeus Linné), so-called because they look a little like ancient Hebrew writing on scrolls, remain quite small. They usually only grow to a size of half an inch, the largest being one and a half inches.
  • Pacific Lettered Cones (Conus litteratus Linné) on the other hand grow from three to five inches long. At first I thought this was the larger Leopard Cone as their pattern is similar, but the Leopard grows paler at the lower end, while the Pacific Lettered is darker.

Possibly Eburneus and Bubble Cones
Possibly Eburneus and Bubble Cones | Source

Eburneus and Bubble Cone

I am not really certain about the identification of these cones, but have put them here as 'possible.'

  • Eburneus Cone (Conus eburneus Hwass) is another cone that is common to the Indo-Pacific areas. It grows to about two inches long and may be found in either a light or dark form.
  • Bubble Cone (Conus bullatus Linné) is a textile cone that is found in the Western Pacific. It grows to two or three inches long and is not really common, so I may have identified it incorrectly.

Reverse of General Cones
Reverse of General Cones | Source

General Cones

General cones (Conus generalis Linné) are unusual and easy to identify. They are considered fairly rare, but as you can see I have found four. Their colours are variable, but they are all quite distinct. When fully grown they are usually about three inches long.


Cones from the Indian and Pacific Oceans have a harpoon-like stinger for incapacitating their prey and some of these, especially the Textile Cone and the Geography Cones are venomous and their sting can be fatal, even for humans. If there is any chance that the occupant of the shell is inside, DO NOT PICK IT UP!

General Cones
General Cones | Source


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    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      oceansnsunsets: They are beautiful. My mother was very keen on our noticing the patterns on shells, leaves, etc. when we were young and that interest has never disappeared. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about the cone shells. Thank you for your comments.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Blossom, these cone shells are beautiful. I especially liked how the one mimics Hebrew writing as if on a scroll, how interesting! I love shells, and tide pools and things like that. They are wonderful. Its good to know of the warning of the stinger as well!

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Alise-Evon: I'm glad you enjoyed it. I find just about all types of seashells interesting, there's always so much to learn.

    • profile image

      Alise- Evon 4 years ago

      That was really interesting. I really knew nothing about cone sea shells before, so was very surprised to learn all this.

      Voted interesting.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      That is true! I hope you do start over as there are some beautiful shells to be found in the Philippines - but beware of those poisonous ones; make sure you handle them carefully and empty is best.

    • PaoloJpm profile image

      John Paolo B.Magdaluyo 4 years ago from Philippine

      Shame I lost them.:( anyway, God gives all new days to start over.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      PaoloJpm: Yes! It is a fun hobby, sea shells are delightful to collect, enjoy, and to bring back memories of happy times on the beach with family and friends.

    • PaoloJpm profile image

      John Paolo B.Magdaluyo 4 years ago from Philippine

      When I was younger, when we went on having fun at the beach. Before we leave probably in the afternoon; I always collects small sea shells, and its quite a fun hobby you know.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      suzettenaples: They are beautiful, but you can find lots of interesting shells in Florida, I know - I've been there and enjoyed it greatly. Thank you so much for your lovely comments.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 4 years ago from Taos, NM

      These cone shells are beautiful, Blossom. The intricate designs on the shell are not anything like the cone shells found in Florida. I did not know they laid eggs. That is so interesting. I have never run into a 'live' cone shell so I have no idea if the ones in Florida are venomous. I have never heard so I think not. But, thanks for warning us about the Pacific ones. Very interesting and informative hub again.

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Glimmer Twin Fan: Yes, I love them and I, too, never stop being amazed at the variety of patterns. Thank you for your comments.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Wow - These are incredible shells. Unfortunately I have never found any that remotely resemble these. I particularly like the marble cone. I love patterns so it appeals to me. Beautiful hub.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Vellur: Thank you. I find them very interesting, but there are so many things that can interest and delight in this world. Yes, I think that the textiles are pretty, and there never seem to be two that have exactly the same pattern.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Interesting to read about these cones, great write. Voted up, interesting and informative. The textile cone looks awesome!!

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      pstraubie48: That's lovely, it is such an enjoyable thing to do. Yes - and even more! I live in a small house in a retirement village and have got rid of many of the things I used to collect, but not my shells, most of my books and ... oh, dear! But I've collected nearly all of them myself and they have happy memories, so they stay. Thank you for those angels and for being one.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Collecting shells is a favorite pastime of mine. I have collected only a very few like this but delight in finding them.

      Have you found many of these? They are beautiful.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Angels are on the way ps

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      always exploring: Yes, I'm very blessed. There are some interesting shells in Florida and also fossil sharks' teeth that people love to collect. Happy hunting when you have the opportunity.

      Mekenzie: Thank you. Many that are washed up on the seashore have been vacated long ago and are quite safe to handle. I'm well, and I hope that you are, too. It's lovely to have a 'quick hello' - blessings to you, too.

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 4 years ago from Michigan

      Hi Blossom, Great informational hub - who knew there was so much to know about Cone Sea Shells? One thing I now know for sure is I will never be looking for cones from the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

      I hope you are well my friend. I've been busy and wanted to shout out a quick hello to you!



    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      These are very colorful and beautiful. You are so lucky to live by the sea. I know you must have a great collection. I look for shells when i visit Fla., never saw any this beautiful. Thank you for sharing...

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Jackie Lynnley: A house built of seashells? Sounds romantic, but I'm not sure how practical it would be unless you were a mermaid! Glad you enjoy collecting, too.

      Frank Atanacio: Frank, I think I should have been born a bower-bird. I love collecting things, especially from nature. We're always learning and that's one of the delights of life.

      Nellieanna: Thank you for your lovely comments. I have mostly lived near the sea and have collected shells since I was tiny, but have never been stung by the occupant of a shell. If there's an occupant, you just hold it very carefully and keep alert.

      Faith Reaper: Thank you for reading and I'm glad you enjoyed my photos. It takes a while to make a hub this way, but it's fun, too. GBY

      cleaner3: They are beautiful, and there is such an amazing variety. Thank you. By the way, Blossom was my nickname at school, so I've had it for a very long time.

      kidscrafts: Thank you. I find them very interesting, too. Yes, it's best to be careful. Actually, my mother taught us how to handle them and, like when we walked in the bush and picked wildflowers, we were never allowed to collect more than one of a kind if it was still alive - except if we were gathering cockles or mussels to eat, and there were plenty of them.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Very interesting hub, Blossom! Good thing to know that some are venomous! Sometime, it' difficult to say if there is still something still living in those beautiful shells!

      Thank you for sharing!

    • cleaner3 profile image

      cleaner3 4 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      wow .. never knew that there was such beauty from the shells of the ocean .. great hub .. Blossom..!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, how lovely and interesting! Your photos are amazing as always. Thanks for the warning too.

      Voted up ++++

      God bless, Faith Reaper

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 4 years ago from TEXAS

      I just love your hubs about shells! They are so thorough and encompassing!

      The thought of picking up a shell containing a live occupant with a deadly sting is unnerving, I have to admit! Woo-hoo. One who lives inland is accustomed only to empty shells or fossils! I shall be very careful if and when I ever venture to any seashore, especially Pacific or Indian Ocean ones!

      Thank you for another informative and enjoyable hub, Blossom! :-)

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      these are a wonderous collection of shells blossoms.. you teach I learn.. Yeah? Great hub my friend :)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Beautiful shells, I have always loved them and had collections. I would love a house built from sea shells. Wouldn't that be gorgeous?

      Thanks for cluing me in on the different kinds!