This family of shells has been made famous as a result of its operculum or trap door that the animal inside carries around on its foot. Gastropods having a trap door or operculum to keep enemies form getting inside to eat the animal is nothing new. What is different about the operculum of the Turban shell is their trap door is a thick calcareous rounded formation that is extremely hard to penetrate. Over the years a legend ( Read my Story about the Catís Eye Shell) developed centered around the operculum, which resembled a catís eye. It was thought that when a human carried the operculum or catís eye of the Turbo Petholatus shell that it not only could bring good luck but ward off the dreaded power of the evil eye. As a result of the legend collectors sought the shell to produce what became know as cats eye jewelry. This combined with the fact that the Turbo Shell animals are considered a good food source, has led to conservation efforts to save the shell as you can see from this quote.
"Status and threats: The Tapestry turban shell (Turbo petholatus) is listed as 'Endangered' on the Red List of the threatened animals of Singapore. It has a smooth, brightly colored shell in brown, green and yellow fine lines. According to the Singapore Red Data book: "Although never abundant, this species could be found up until the early 1970's but is now extremely rare. It needs to be protected from shell collectors". For more information Click Here
Another member of this family, Turbo marmoratus or the Giant Green Turban has become a collectors item due to its popularity. Not only is it sought after for its huge all white trap door but for its beautiful interior. As with the majority of Turban shells when the outer covering of the shell is removed it reveals iridescent mother of pearl that crafters seek. The enormous size of this source of mother of pearl has led to the limited availability of the shell. Shell Collectors are finding that not only are they expensive but hard to acquire.
When you look at this family of shells you can picture a person wearing a coiled cloth turban on top of their head. That explains why they are called Turban Shells. The family name Turbinidae come from the latin term Turbo which refers to a spinning top. The animal inside is a mild mannered creature that spends it days feeding primarily on algae. I have found that the empty shell appears to be a favorite of the little creature that is so popular in beach areas known as the Hermit Crab. Both animals have a lot in common. Both are being abused to satisfy the pleasures of mankind.
Giant Green Turbo
Giant Green Turbo