In many benthic organisms with a planktonic larval stage, local populations have different morphology. Such difference may arise from some of the following proximate mechanisms. “Local recruitment (LR)”: no larvae move between local populations, and segregated populations possess alleles coding for locally adaptive morphology. “Intragenerational selection (IS)”: larvae move between local populations, and individuals with alleles for locally adaptive morphology survive after recruitment. “Phenotypic plasticity (PP)”: larvae move between local populations and show phenotypic plasticity to adapt to a locality after recruitment. We examined which mechanism explains our finding that a planktonic developer Turbo coronatus coronatus (Gastropoda) had significantly longer spines on its shell on more exposed shores at scales of < 2 km. Experiments at Ishigaki Island, Okinawa, Japan, showed the following results. (a) Shorter- and longer-spined populations occurring within 2 km showed non-significant low ϕst values (−0.0040 to 0.00095) for the mitochondrial DNA COI region. This suggests no segregation of the local populations, supporting the mechanisms IS and PP. (b) T. c. coronatus generated significantly longer spines 70 days after being transplanted to the habitat of a longer-spined population, supporting IS and PP. (c) Individuals caged in the sea for 79 days generated longer spines than individuals in the laboratory, supporting PP. In conclusion, shore-specific morphology of T. c. coronatus arises most likely from phenotypic plasticity and possibly from intragenerational selection.