Cowry shell

Mollusca – Gastropoda

Distribution:       

Popular with shell collectors due to their polished colourful shells, cowries generally live on sheltered inshore reefs. Young cowries have a fragile shell that is obviously spirally coiled. However, this shape is hidden as the last coil of the shell wraps around and hides the juvenile whorls. Cowries feed mostly at night, mainly on sponges. There are more than 60 species living along the Western Australian coast.

Did you know?

The shiny adult shell is due to a glassy layer that is secreted by the mantle flaps. These flaps slide up to cover the sides and top of the shell, only withdrawing when danger threatens. When the animal dies this shiny glaze is lost over time.