Did you know New Jersey has a state seashell?
New Jersey's state animal is the horse.
The violet is the state flower.
And the state fruit is none other than the blueberry.
But did you know there is a state seashell? New Jersey is only one of 14 states to have one.
New Jersey's is the knobbed welk — a shell beachgoers have most likely seen after storms, said John Tiedemann, director of Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy at Monmouth University.
The knobbed welk was designated New Jersey's state seashell in 1995. It's a large pear-shaped gastropod mollusk shell, coiling from left to right, yellowish-gray in color with brownish purple streaks. Many times you may not find the welk in tact. Instead, the middle is found which is the spirally inner-whirl of the welk, as he described it.
Tiedemann said the knobbed welk is found throughout New Jersey's coast, both in coastal bays, estuaries as well as near-shore coastal waters.
It's harvested commercially and sold as conch. But it's not really conch, said Tiedemann. The welk is more of a species found in cooler waters in the North Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic. The real conch is often found in tropical waters from Florida throughout the Caribbean.
He said when people say they've eaten Jersey conch, they're actually feasting on knobbed welk, which is often served in salads, chowders and fritters.
Besides the knobbed welk, other favorite shells at the Jersey Shore include the surf clam, which is often found as people walk the beaches. Tiedemann said large surf clams were used in his house as ashtrays when he was growing up.
Jingle shells — "very small, brightly colored, almost reflective" — are sought after because they have a little hole that allow them to made into bracelets and necklaces.
New Jerseyans may also be familiar with the slipper shell, which is sometimes attached to another organism like a horseshoe crab.
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