Ryan Photographic - Ovulidae - False cowries


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Family Ovulidae

The ovulids are a widely distributed family of gastropod molluscs. Mostly tropical, some are found in temperate waters. They are all (or nearly all) carnivores on soft corals and seafans and in many cases closely mimic their hosts. The precise color matching comes from ingesting the same compounds that produce their host color as they feast on their host polyps. It is their mantle that produces the match, the shells are usually monchromatic in shades of cream. The egg cowries tend to have a "typical" cowrie shape but the spindle cowries are elongate which gives them their common name. The mantle of some of the spindle cowries even produces filaments that match the tentacles of the polyps on which they feed.

The first spindle cowrie I ever photographed (below) had eaten an area of polyps from its host seafan leaving a white skeleton behind. It was this area of white, rather than the cowrie, which attracted me and I didn't immediately see the animal.

The common egg cowrie has a black mantle and is "reluctant" to retract it. As a result, it looks more like a giant sea slug than a cowrie.

 

Aclyvola species

Aclyvola species Puerto Galera, Philippines

MOLL 7323 Aclyvola species Puerto Galera, Philippines.

Cyphoma gibbosum Flamingo tongue snail

Flamingo tonuge snail

Cyphoma gibbosum Flamingo tongue snails, Bahamas

flamingo tongue snail

Cyphoma gibbosum Flamingo tongue snail, Bahamas.

Flamingo tongue snail

MOLL 3130 Cyphoma gibbosum Flamingo tongue snail, Belize.

Dentiovula dorsuosa Violet egg cowrie

Dentiovula dorsuosa Violet egg cowrie, Kri eco, Raja Ampat

MOLL 2727 Dentiovula dorsuosa Violet egg cowrie, Kri Eco, Raja Ampat.

Hiatavolva coarctata Compressed cowrie

Hiatavolva coarctata Compreesed cowrie on seawhip 2, Fiji

Hiatavolva coarctata Compressed cowrie on seawhip, , Fiji. I am not sure about this identification.

Hiatavolva coarctata Compreesed cowrie on seawhip, shell partially exposed, Fiji

Hiatavolva coarctata Compressed cowrie on seawhip, shell partially exposed, Fiji.

Hiatavolva coarctata Compreesed cowrie on seawhip, shell exposed, Fij

Hiatavolva coarctata Compressed cowrie on seawhip, shell exposed, Fiji.

Margovula marginata Margined egg cowrie

Margovula marginata Margined egg cowrie, Kri Eco, Raja Ampat

MOLL 7474 Margovula marginata Margined egg cowrie, Kri Eco, Raja Ampat

Ovula ovum Egg cowrie

Ovula ovum Egg cowries feeding on leather coral, Byron Bay, Australia

MOLL 7484 Ovula ovum Egg cowries feeding on leather coral, Byron Bay, Australia

Ovula ovum, egg cowrie

MOLL 0571 Ovula ovum, Egg cowrie, Raja Ampat, West Papua

Phenacovolva birostris Double-snouted spindle cowrie

Phenacovolva birostris, double-snouted spndle cowrie on seafan, Fiji

Phenacovolva birostris, double-snouted spindle cowrie on seawhip, Fiji

 

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Ryan Photographic, 2802 East 132nd Circle, Thornton, CO  80241  USA  Phone 303-919-7145