The Compressed Spindle Cowrie (Hiatavolva coarctata) is also known as the Pink Allied Cowrie. They are not a true cowries , instead they are in the Ovulidae family also known as False Cowries or Cowry Allies. They are predatory or parasitic marine gatropod molluscs in the same super family Cypraeodea as the true cowries. Compressed Spindle Cowrie are small and are hard to spot.
As their name Compressed Spindle Cowrie suggests, they have a proportionately long shell which is compressed. Because of the pointy ends they resemble a spindle, hence the name. The exterior of the shell is a whitish color but is usually covered by the mantle. Their diet is highly specialized and they feed only on one species of sea whip. As can be seen in the images the mantle closely resembles the sea whip providing them with excellent camouflage. The papilla on the shell closely resemble the polyps on their prey. They grow up to 3 cm in length.
IN THE WILD
Compressed Spindle Cowrie are only seen on the species of sea whip that they prey on. At present the species seems to be undescribed. They are hard to spot because of their size and excellent camouflage.
The Compressed Spindle Cowrie is found across the Indo-Pacific region, they are found only on one species of sea whip. In East African waters this sea whip is found on reef flats and walls from 12 meters downwards .
The Compressed Spindle Cowrie preys on only one species of sea whip which is yet to be described.
Very little seems known of the reproductive behavior of the Compressed Spindle Cowrie.
The shells are harvested for collectors, but given the lack of information on this species little is known of the impact on the population. Shells are best left in the ocean.
COMPRESSED SPINDLE COWRIE CLASSIFICATION
Species: H. coarctata