Egg Cowrie – Facts and Photographs

Ovula ovum, common name the common egg cowrie

The egg cowrie, (Ovula ovum) is a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Ovulidae, known as the false cowries or allied cowries. Technically they are not cowries per se but because of their similarity to cowries they are commonly known as cowries.

APPEARANCE

The shell of the egg cowrie is egg-shaped on top and snow white with a shiny surface.The apeture on the bottom has teeth on one side only whereas true cowries have teeth on both sides of the aperture.  The interior is a dark brown purple color. The shells of the egg cowries reach 12 cm in length. In the adult the mantle is covers the entire shell and is black with raised yellow tubercles and white  spots. The juvenile resembles a toxic species of nudibranch. Unusually the mantle is kept out most of the time, even during daylight.

egg cowrie, (Ovula ovum)

IN THE WILD

The egg cowries are only seen out at night, usually on soft corals. There is evidence that they are territorial and that they return to the same hiding place just before sunrise.

HABITAT

The egg cowrie is found across the Indian ocean and in the west Pacific. The are found from 1 meter to 20 meters in depth. They are usually found in sections of the reef or shore that have a plentiful supply of soft leather corals.

Ovula ovum, common name the common egg cowrie

DIET

The egg cowrie feed on soft corals, and are often seen feeding on leather corals.

egg cowrie, (Ovula ovum)

REPRODUCTION

Egg cowries reach sexual maturity at approximately 7 cm in shell length, at approximately 1 year of age. They are not hermaphrodites and mating as seen above takes place usually in the summer months. The eggs are usually laid on a hard substrate and there is evidence that the laying of eggs is synchronized with the moon cycles. Once the eggs hatch they become free swimming veligers and eventually develop into adults .

COMMERCIAL EXPLOITATION

The shells are collected in some areas for sale to tourists but hopefully the restrictions in place regarding the transportation of shells will reduce this trade.

AQUARIUMS

They are not reef safe and being nocturnal are unlikely to add any value to a tank. They feed on soft corals and possibly some species of anemone.

IMAGES

egg cowrie, (Ovula ovum)

EGG COWRIE CLASSIFICATION

Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Family: Ovulidae
Subfamily:Ovulinae
Genus: Ovula
Species:O. ovum

LITERATURE CITED

EQUIPMENT USED

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