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The Seashore

European Cowrie Shell (Trivia monacha)

European Cowrie Shell (Trivia monacha)

Cowrie feeding on a star ascidian colony. Note the orange siphon, top right.

Cowries are quite distinct with a whorl of the shell growing over the rest of the spiral. In this way it has a long slit down the side of the shell length. European Cowries are only 1 cm long with a very glossy shell which is ribbed

The mantle is the organ in molluscs which secretes the shell. In the Cowrie the mantle comes out of the slit and over the back of the creature. In this way it is constantly laying down new material and remains glossy and new. The border of the mantle is orange. As the Cowrie creeps along it has a siphon that protrudes to collect water for breathing. They are carnivores and eat star ascidians, a form of sea-squirt found on rocks and seaweed. Once sexually mature cowries stop growing. They are not often seen and live in the lowest areas of the lower rocky seashore. They are widely distributed including the Mediterranean where other species are found.

 


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