Friday, May 29, 2009

Tiger Cowry

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

Tiger Cowry
(Cypraea tigris)

Tiger Cowry - Cypraea tigris
Photo by Gerick Bergsma

Cowries are known for their beautiful shells.  The snails keep them clean and polished with their mantles, which extend to cover the entire outer surface of the shell. The shells are frequently used in jewelry, and in many parts of the world, cowry shells were once used as currency.

Found in the Indopacific, from South Africa and the Red Sea, to Hawaii and French Polynesia.

Live in areas of sand and rubble on reef flats and lagoons.

Cowries scrape algae from rocks and other substrate using their tongue-like radulas.

Quick Fact
Many cowries are nocturnal, and are rarely found out in the open during daylight hours.  Tiger cowries, which are one of the largest cowries, growing 12-15 cm in length, are most commonly found tucked under coral ledges or beneath rubble during the day.

Learn More
- Wikipedia

- Moorea Biocode Database

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