This is a live animal of the Tiger Cowrie, Cypraea tigris Linnaeus, 1758, the type species of the genus Cypraea. It is one of the largest cowries, and one of the best known species by the public.
It has a wide geographic distribution in the tropical Indo-Pacific.The shell size varies quite a bit, from dwarfs at 38 mm to gigantic 153 mm. The largest specimens are usually found in Hawaii; they have been described as the form schilderiana Cate, 1961.
The Tiger Cowrie lives in shallow waters, up to about 20 meters.
See more about this species at the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) at:
Live animal of the Mole Cowrie, Talparia talpa Linnaeus, 1758, at the Waikiki Aquarium, Honolulu, Hawaii.
This is a beautiful cowries with distinctive bluish to brown animal with thick papillae with white dots, and a shell that has caramel and brown bands, and a chocolate brown base. Unmistakable species.
It has a wide Indo-West Pacific distribution, and the Red Sea. The shell size range is 23 to 105 mm.
This is the holotype of Chimaeria incomparabilis Briano, 1993 (now Sphaerocypraea incomparabilis), considered to be one of the rarest of all seashells.
Its provenance remains a mystery, but it is said to be from somewhere off Somalia.
The holotype is deposited in the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit and do some research at the type collection at several large museums, and to have seen in person four of the only six known specimens of this beautiful shell.
When this shell was discovered it puzzled malacologists. It resembles a true cowrie, family Cypraeidae, but it was later discovered to look similar to a fossil, Sphaerocypraea, in the family Ovulidae.
See more taxonomic information at the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) at:
The watermark does not correspond to the actual date when I saw this shell in person, on 2008-11-17.
Based on a suggestion by jakob, I changed the observation to the original data when the specimen was collected, 1963 (I don't have the photo of the specimen label handy, so I don't know the month and day). However, by posting the date of observation it sounds like I observed it a little before I was born :-). I guess iNat is not meant to document museum specimens, since it complicates things quite a bit. Maybe there needs to be a similar website for natural history museum specimens, named iNat Museum!
Janthina exigua is one of the smallest species of Janthina. Like their congeners, it builds a bubble raft, which is blown by the wind. The snail cannot swin and will drown if it falls of its raft. It waits until a chance encounter with its prey, the Portuguese Man-o-war, Physallia physalis.
This snail has a circumtropical distribution. Often after a storm, you can find many purple snails as well as its host (one beached specimen shown here).
These photos were taken a day before President Obama visited the Bellow Air Force Station, and the beach was closed to the public.
See the taxonomy of this species at the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS):
Syn. Littorina neritoides. A common snail, tipically found in the splash zone of rocky shores.
Coating rocks in the wetlands here. some sort of invasive mud snail?
The small Sargassum Snail is a member of the Litiopidae family. It only grows to about 3 to 6 mm (1/8 to 1/4 in), and often found on floating Sargassum seaweed, or washed ashore on the beach, but it can also be found on submerged plants and seaweeds down to a depth of 800 m (2600 ft). The snail has a similar distribution as Sargassum, from North Carolina to Uruguay, including the Gulf of Mexico.
The photos here were taken under a microscope in a lab in Corpus Christi. The map shows the location where it was collected from washing beached Sargassum after Hurricane Dolly hit South Padre Island. See more information about the snail at the Biodiversity of the Gulf of Mexico (BioGoMx) database at:
After Hurricane Dolly made landfall at South Padre Island, I went to Padre Island to look for any unusual critters brought by the storm. I found an unusually high number of yellow sea whips, Leptogorgea setacea and many Sea whip Simnia, Simnialena marferula, a small ectoparasitic snail that lives and feeds on the host sea whip. The animal acquires the same coloration of its host and both the animal and the shell are yellow. The mantle of the snail is yellow mottled with black or brown. The mantle has short fingerlike extensions called papillae (seen on some photos here). The shell is yellow-orange (depending on the host's color), without any color markings, and the aperture is whitish. The photos shown here were taken in a lab in Corpus Christi, under the microscope; the location on the map is where the specimens were collected. Some authors consider this a synonym of Simnialena uniplicata, e.g, Rosenberg et al, 2009 in BioGoMx:
We saw hundreds if not thousands of these in a road rut serving as a high intertidal mud puddle. Light's Manual says, "Populations in the San Francisco Bay are endangered; they now live in high intertidal marshes, having been displaced by Ilyanassa obsoleta." Similarly Cohen and Carlton (1995) write, "The introduced Atlantic snail Ilyanassa obsoleta now occupies the Bay mudflat areas formerly occupied by the native snail Cerithidea californica. Each spring the two populations of these snails collide, and by mid-summer the exotic Ilyanassa restricts the native Cerithidea to high-marsh salt pannes (an environment too high in salinity for Ilyanassa and thus providing a habitat refuge for Cerithidea) through egg-string predation and direct competitive interference." This population seemed to be booming, but as they described, it was right a the high tide line, and the pool was very warm and probably very salty.
The Neotaenioglossa is an taxonomic name for a large group of mostly sea snails. The name was originally created by Haller in 1882. Ponder and Warén (1988), and Marquet (1997), assigned this name to the superorder Caenogastropoda. ITIS considers the order Neotaenioglossa to be a synonym of Cerithioidea Férussac, 1819 .