Species Identification - Mollusks

Lettered Olive - Oliva sayanaea

Family: Olividae

Description: The Lettered Olive is South Carolina’s state shell. It is amarine gastropod mollusk—a large vpredatory sea snail. Olives live in near-short waters and on shallow flats. As carnivores, they feed on bivalves and crustaceans. At very low tide, the lettered olive leaves trails when it crawls in the sand. Zigzag markings on the shell give it the “lettered’ name. Early Native Americans made jewelry from the shells.

Range: Lettered olives range from North Carolina to Florida and the Gulf States and Mexico, and they are prevalent on Hunting Island.

Photo by Carol Corbin
Vieo by Dory Ingram

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