Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Top Shell Snail

[Originally posted to the Moorea Coral Reef LTER (MCR LTER) Marine Life Encyclopedia]

Trocha or Top Shell Snail
(Trochus niloticus)

Trocha or Top Shell Snail - Trochus niloticus
Photo by Gerick Bergsma

Top shells were introduced to French Polynesia in 1957 to be commercially harvested, and are now one of the islands' most common snails.

Top snails are naturally found in the Indian and far western Pacific Oceans between Sri Lanka, the Ryukyu Islands, New Caledonia and northern Australia.  They have been extensively introduced in the other parts of the south Pacific, including the Cook Islands and French Polynesia.

Exposed reefs and reef flats

Algal turf

Quick Fact
The beautiful nacre (often called 'mother of pearl') lining the inside of the sturdy top shell is harvested to make buttons and jewelry.  Much of the harvest is now exported, although top shell is increasingly important in the fabrication of Tahitian jewelry.

Learn More
Coming Soon
- Moorea Biocode Database

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