The Lettered Olive (Oliva sayana)

October 2018

South Carolins's state shell is actually a large sea snail

- Dr. Edmund Ravenel of Charleston named the shell. He became an avid naturalist and conchologist after retiring from medicine.

- Exterior color can vary from cream to grayish with reddish-brown zigzag markings. These markings are thought to resemble letters or hieroglyphics, hence the name.

- The smooth, shiny, cylindrical-shaped shells are around 6 centimeters long, with maximum reported size at 9.1 centimeters.

- Olives are carnivores and capture bivalves and small crustaceans with their muscular foot before taking them below the sand surface to digest.

- When you pick up a shell, look inside and make sure no one is home! It is unlawful to take a living shell out of its ocean environment.

- Native Americans long ago made jewelry of the handsome shells. In the early 1900s, shells were collected and strung to make “portieres” (door curtains) to sell to tourists.