Official State Sea Shells

Did you know that some U.S. states have an official sea shell?

States choose to have an official bird, gem or flower based on something that is common to the state or essential to the state’s commerce. Sea shell species are usually picked to be officially representative of a state for the same reason; it could be found abundantly or be part of their coastal economy (like oysters).

I’ve written previously on state birds and a time when an organization was trying to change the state bird of Florida. It is interesting to me how strongly people feel about their “official” representative and how political the debate to keep, change or even adopt one can get.

I was researching sea shells for a Crafty Beachcomber project and decided to find out which coastal states in the U.S. had official sea shells.  Here’s the list:

  • Alabama: Johnstone’s Junonia
  • Connecticut: Eastern Oyster
  • Delaware: Channeled Whelk
  • Florida: Horse Conch
  • Georgia: Knobbed Whelk
  • Massachusetts: Wrinkled Whelk
  • Mississippi: Eastern Oyster
  • New Jersey: Knobbed Whelk
  • New York: Bay Scallop
  • North Carolina: Scotch Bonnet
  • Oregon: Oregon Hairy Triton
  • Rhode Island: Northern Quahog
  • South Carolina: Lettered Olive
  • Texas: Prickly Whelk
  • Virginia: Eastern Oyster

Meanwhile, several states also have a state fossil that is a type of mollusk.  Not all are coastal states; here is the list:

A bit of trivia: the word “conch” comes from a Greek word meaning “shell”. So it’s redundant to say “conch shell”.


Source: and the individual state websites

 Photo credit: they are mine and copyrighted. Please ask permission to use.


1 thought on “Official State Sea Shells

  1. Jody

    The lightning whelk shell is actually recognized as the official Texas State Shell. I’ve got a post scheduled to be published tomorrow on exactly that subject. 🙂

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