Photo of the day (93): Babylonia areolata

This is the photo of sea snails Babylonia areolata served as food in Vietnamese cuisine in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The Vietnamese name of this species is ốc hương. These are grilled Babylonia areolata, that means ốc hương nướng in Vietnamese language.

This image accomplish one of previous posts about this species.

A dish of Babylonia areaolata from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo by Jan Vrba, CC-BY-4.0.

I thank my friend Jan Vrba who kindly provided the photo.


Thach N. N., 2005: Shells of Vietnam. Conchbooks, 338 pp + 91 plates. ISBN 3-925919-71-6. page 135.

Photo of the day (92): eggs of Cassis madagascariensis

These are egg cases of Cassis madagascariensis.

I thank my friend and underwater photographer, Tracey Winholt who has kindly shared the following photos.

These photos are valuable, because I found no other photos of eggs of this species on the internet except of black-and-white photos by D’Asaro. They are also valuable because this large species is rare in some areas. For example, it is rare in Florida.

Cassis madagascariensis eggs

Cassis madagascariensis eggs. Photo by Tracey Winholt, CC-BY-4.0.

Egg cases of Cassis madagascariensis were described for the first time in 1969 as the first described egg cases of the genus Cassis.

The locality is Cozumel, Mexico. It is an island of the Caribbean Sea, nearby the Yucatán Peninsula. The habitat is sea grass beds in the depth 7-8 meters. These egg cases are not uncommon in the grassy areas in Cozumel.

The another egg case was also laid on an algae. It is some fan shaped green alga of the genus Avrainvillea, maybe Avrainvillea erecta. Eggs were laid to the alga to both of its sides:

Cassis madagascariensis eggs

Cassis madagascariensis eggs. Photo by Tracey Winholt, CC-BY-4.0.

Each egg capsule is quadrangular as viewed from the top. Egg capsules are irregularly arranged on the substrate. Egg capsules with developing eggs are light brown in color.

Cassis madagascariensis eggs

Cassis madagascariensis eggs. Photo by Tracey Winholt, CC-BY-4.0.

D’Asaro counted 2400 embryos in one egg case on average. There are developing embryos on the photo:

Cassis madagascariensis eggs

Cassis madagascariensis embryos. Photo by Tracey Winholt, CC-BY-4.0.

Maybe some of those embryos will grow up into an adult snail with a shell length up to 30 cm or 40 cm:

Cassis madagascariensis shells

Shells of adult Cassis madagascariensis. Photo by Michal Jurásek, CC-BY-4.0.


D’Asaro C. N. 1969: The spawn of the emperor helmet shell, Cassis madagascariensis Lamarck, from South Florida. Bulletin of marine Science, 19(4): 905-910.

Sept J. D. 2016: Atlantic Seashore Field Guide: Florida to Canada. Rowman & Littlefield. page: not numbered. (Note that there should be “cm” instead of “mm” in the size section.)

Photo of the day (91): spoons made of Turbo marmoratus

I have taken these photos of spoons and cutlery in a shop in Hội An, Central Vietnam.spoons made of shellsspoons made of shellsThese spoons are made of some gastropod shells, most probably of green turban Turbo marmoratus. With the shell length up to 20 cm (or up to 25 cm) it is the largest species of the family Turbinidae. It’s distribution is Indo-Pacific. As of 1974 it has been listed as a “common” species. The shell is commercially important as a source of nacre (mother of pearl) and it is the most important commercial species of Turbinidae in the tropical Indo-West Pacific. It is intensively harvested and exploited in some countries. Many of its populations has been reduced.


Dance S. P. (ed.) (1974). The Encyclopedia of Shells. Blanford Press, ISBN 0713706988, pages 52-53.

Dwiono S.A.P., Pradina & Makatipu P.C. (2001) Dwiono, S., & Pradina, M. P. (2001). Spawning and seed production of the green snail (Turbo marmoratus L.) in Indonesia. SPC Trochus Information Bulletin# 7. Poka–Ambon, Indonesia, 7.

Turbo marmoratus Linnaeus, 1758. accessed August 15, 2019.

Photo of the day (89): Babylonia areolata

Babylonia areolata is a species of a sea snail from the Indo-Pacific. It is a predatory species.

It can be found on sandy bottom from Taiwan to Ceylon. It lived also in Japan in Late Miocene (about 11 to 5 million years ago) and in Pliocene (about 5 to 2.5 million years ago). My photos of Babylonia areolata are from southern Vietnam.Babylonia areolataThere is also visible on the previous photo, that the siphon is not a tube, but it is a part of the mantle rolled into a shape of a tube.

The shape of its shell is buccinoid. So it was classified in the family Buccinidae with the superfamily Buccinoidea in the 20th century. The family Babyloniidae was established in 1971 but it has became more widely used since 2005. The family Babyloniidae has been classified within the superfamily Muricoidea since 2005. The family Babyloniidae is unassigned to a certain superfamily as of 2019. Although the higher taxonomy is unclear and (nearly) always changing, its generic placement is quite stable and this species belong to the genus Babylonia since 1838.

A view of a live Babylonia areolata showing the shape of the shell:Babylonia areolataBabylonia areolata is commercially important species. It is also produced in aquaculture. It is an edible snail and it is a part of cuisine of Vietnam, Thailand and China and probably in other countries as well. It is sold in markets in Vietnam sometimes.

They are being stored in markets in bowls with sea water like this. Number of live Babylonia areolata in a bowl of water:Babylonia areolataThe color of the shell is yellow and it has three rows of brown spots. It is very easy distinguishing feature, because Babylonia areolata is the only Babylonia of 14 Babylonia species that has three rows of spots. The color of a live animal is yellow.

A brown operculum is attached at dorsal part of the foot in a live snail. The shape of the operculum is drop-like. There are are clear growth lines on the operculum.

Or you can see them in markets on plates without water. Live Babylonia areolata on sold in a street in Gò Vấp District, Ho Chi Minh City. Babylonia areolata is on the bottom right. There are also other water snails; freshwater Pila ampullacea, and other sea snails, bivalves and crustaceans:Babylonia areolataThe growth lines on the operculum are much more clear on the photo:Babylonia areolataMenu with ten different dishes made of Babylonia areolata in a street restaurant in Gò Vấp District, Ho Chi Minh City. You can get a dish for about 70.000 Vietnamese đồng there:Babylonia areolata menuVietnamese food with Babylonia areolata, lemon grass and red pepper in a soup from Cần Giờ District, Ho Chi Minh City:Babylonia areolataReferences

Altena C. O. van Regteren & Gittenberger E. (1981). “The genus Babylonia (Prosobranchia: Buccinidae)“. Zoologische Verhandelingen 188: 1-57, + 11 plates.

MolluscaBase (2019). MolluscaBase. Babylonia areolata (Link, 1807). Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at: on 2019-07-21

Photo of the day (86): Scyllaea pelagica

Scyllaea pelagica is a species of a nudibranch.

When I saw this sea slug for the first time, it resembled a floating rag to me. A very small floating rag. It is even waving in the water and it will bent easily in the smallest water current.

Scyllaea pelagicaScyllaea pelagicaI suppose that such appearance gives to a slug an advantage against predators. The brown coloration gives a resemblance to surroundings between the Sargassum brown algae. Its waving is a cryptic behaviour. Those are two ways of a camouflage.

Its constant movement and bending in every unobvious angles is a challenge for taking photos of this sea slug.

Its body length can reach up to 45 mm. My specimen comes from southern Croatia. The whole distribution of this species is large, because it can be found in all tropical and temperate seas. It is the only species from the family Scyllaeidae in Mediterranean Sea.

Let’s taken a closer look in a clearer position. Right side view of the Scyllaea pelagica heading right:
Scyllaea pelagicaLeft side view of the Scyllaea pelagica heading left:
Scyllaea pelagicaIts rhinophores are very small and they are hidden in rhinophore sheaths. Its head with mouth and with rhinophore sheaths looks like this from underside:
Scyllaea pelagicaThere are two pairs of lobes on its dorsal part of the body. Underside view:
Scyllaea pelagicaThere are also visible dendritic gills on the dorsal part and between lobes. Gills are transparent or white in color.
Scyllaea pelagicaThere is a genital pore on the right side of the body. It lies in front of the first pair of lobes. There is also anus on the right side of the body. It lies between those lobes.
Scyllaea pelagicaThere are also beautiful blue spots on the sides and on the dorsal part of the body.

Where are eyes? I found no eyes in my photos. I am also not sure what exactly are orange like structures inside the body of the slug.


Rudman, W.B., 2004 (March 10) Scyllaea pelagica Linnaeus, 1758. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney.

Cataneo-Vietti R., Chemello R. & Giannuzzi-Savelli R. (eds.) 1991 Atlas of Mediterranean nudibranchs. Atlante dei Nudibranchi del Mediterraneo. La Conchiglia, Roma, page 22 (only mention its occurrence and nothing more).

Photo of the day (85): dress with cowries

This is a Native American woman’s dress with cowrie shells.

The dress is on display in the Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures in Prague. It is a part of the temporary exhibition Indians in 2017-2019.

dress with cowrie shellsIt is a woman’s dress made of cotton. The bodice is decorated with six lines of cowrie shells (family Cypraeidae). They are probably shells of money cowrie Monetaria moneta, that is the most common cowrie.

dress with cowrie shellsThe dress is from the first half of the 20th century. It comes from the Western Plains Indians. According to the Museum staff is was made by Crows or by Cheyennes. Shells comes from the Indo-Pacific tropical waters and therefore they were imported to the Great Plains.

There is also a belt made of hide and of cloth. There were used porcupine quills in the embroidery of the belt:
dress with cowrie shellsSuch cowries decorations were used also by other Native American tribes, including for example Sioux. Decorating by Crows with elk teeth looks very similar. Elk teeth were probably used in times when cowries were not available yet.

The same style of the dress is shown for example on this 1904 photo:

Cheyenne baby in dress with cowrie shells

1904 photo of Cheyenne baby by American photographer Jessie Tarbox Beals (1870-1942). Public domain. It comes from the website of Missouri Historical Society.

It depicts the Cheyenne baby. There are only four rows of cowrie shells. It seems that there are money cowrie Monetaria moneta shells too, but there are also some ring cowrie Monetaria annulus shells on the right sleeve and on the right part of the dress (on the left part on the photo).



Photo of the day (84): Recluzia lutea

Recluzia lutea (Bennett, 1840), synonym: Recluzia rollandiana Petit de la Saussaye, 1853, is a species of a marine pelagic snail. This means that this snail does not live on the sea bottom, but it lives in the water column. Surprisingly this snail has no swimming fins. This species does not live in the whole water column, but in its the most upper part, closer to the surface level. Therefore it is a part of neuston and such gastropods are called neustonic gastropods. Simply said: Recluzia lutea float on the sea surface. There is also the term ‘plankton’ used for these gastropods: that means it is only able to drift and it cannot swim against the water current. This species is holoplanktonic, which means that it is planktonic for its entire life. It live under a raft-like float made from air bubbles and mucus. It has not yet been observed how the float is constructed by Recluzia.

Recluzia lutea

Shells of Recluzia lutea. Photo by Rodrigo B. Salvador, CC-BY-4.0.

These shells of Recluzia lutea were found way up in the Matinhos River, Paraná state, in southern Brazil, after a storm event, and sent to the Zoology museum in São Paulo.


Beu A. G. 2017: Evolution of Janthina and Recluzia (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Epitoniidae). Records of the Australian Museum, 69(3): 119–222. DOI: 10.3853/j.2201-4349.69.2017.1666

S. van der Spoel, L.J. Newman & K.W. Estep (accessed December 13, 2018) Recluzia rollandiana. Marine Species Identification Portal.

Photo of the day (80): Tonna galea 2

Tonna galea is a large sea snail, that belongs to the family Tonnidae. It is family of predatory gastropods.

My Tonna galea is from southern Croatia.

Video of crawling Tonna galea on the sand in an aquarium (there is no audio):

Another video of the same Tonna galea (no audio):

The frontal view of Tonna galea usually looks like this:

Tonna galeaWhile this is the view of the same specimen of Tonna galea with extended proboscis:

Tonna galea with extended proboscisProboscis is the darker part coming from its head.

Proboscis is a prehensile tube and there is a mouth at the end of the proboscis. Therefore it is an important part of the body of the sea snail. Proboscis is well innervated (there are nerves inside the wall of proboscis) and there are glands next to the proboscis. I found no exact measurements of the proboscis of such big Tonna galea sea snails in the literature.


Simone L. R. L. de 1995: Anatomical study on Tonna galea (Linné, 1758) and Tonna maculosa (Dillwyn, 1817) (Mesogastropoda, Tonnoidea, Tonnidae) from Brazilian region. Malacologia 37(1): 23-32.

Photo of the day (79): Syrinx aruanus

Syrinx aruanus is a species of extant gastropod with the largest shell. The height of the shell can be up 72.2 cm. The largest specimen is stored in the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The volume of the animal is also very large. It is thought to be more voluminous than the largest extinct snail Campanile giganteum.

Syrinx aruanus is a marine sea snail and it belong to the family Turbinellidae.

I thank Jan Linhart, who has taken the photo of the shell in the Phuket Sea shell Museum, Thailand. I do not know exact measurements of this shell.

Syrinx aruanus

Shell of Syrinx aruanus in the Phuket Sea shell Museum. Photo by Jan Linhart,, CC-BY-4.0.

Specimen of the shell height 91 cm was previously reported in the literature, but the reported size was wrong.

It may be also the heaviest extant snail (reaching up to 18 kg?), but I found no proper reference.

What are the limits of gastropods?


McClain C. R., Balk M. A., Benfield M. C., Branch T. A, Chen C., Cosgrove J., Dove A. D. M., Gaskins L. C., Helm R. R., Hochberg F. G., Lee F. B., Marshall A., McMurray S. E., Schanche C., Stone S. N. & Thaler A. D. 2015: Sizing ocean giants: patterns of intraspecific size variation in marine megafauna. – PeerJ 3:e715.  DOI: 10.7717/peerj.715.

Taylor J. D. & Glover E. A. 2003: Food of giants – field observations on the diet of
Syrinx aruanus (Linnaeus, 1758) (Turbinellidae) the largest living gastropod. pp. 217-223. – In: Wells F. E., Walker D. I. & Jones D. S. (eds) 2003: The Marine Flora and Fauna of Dampier, Western Australia. Western Australian Museum, Perth.

Gastropods in Phuket Sea shell Museum

Phuket Sea shell Museum is located at the south of the Phuket Island in Thailand.

I thank to Jan Linhart who has taken these photos of shells in the Phuket Sea shell Museum.

Collection of shells of sea snails from the family Haliotidae:


Shells of Haliotidae. Photo by Jan Linhart,, CC-BY-4.0.

Collection of shells of sea snails from the family Costellariidae:


Shells of Costellariidae. Photo by Jan Linhart,, CC-BY-4.0.

Collection of shells of sea snails from the family Terebridae:


Shells of Terebridae. Photo by Jan Linhart,, CC-BY-4.0.

Stages of growth of the Charonia tritonis from the family Ranellidae:

Charonia tritonis

Stages of growth of the Charonia tritonis. Photo by Jan Linhart,, CC-BY-4.0.

Stages of growth of the Turbinella pyrum from the family Turbinellidae:

Turbinella pyrum

Stages of growth of the Turbinella pyrum. Photo by Jan Linhart,, CC-BY-4.0.

There are also other shells of gastropods and other shells of molluscs, such as ammonites and bivalves in the museum. It is worth to visit.