Ovulidae

of the Keppel Islands

Ovulidae Gallery

Sea snails or ‘ovulids’

Ovulidae is a family of predatory or parasitic sea snails, or molluscs. They live on colonies of soft corals and ‘black corals’ from the orders Alcyonacea and Antipatharia at depths of between 9 and 30 metres.

‘False cowries’

Ovulids are also known as ‘false cowries’ because of their similarity to the true cowries (Cypraeidae or ‘allied cyprea‘). Each species of ovulid tends to live with a specific host organism, such as soft corals or sponges.

Above: Volva volva volva, a species of allied cowrie, Divided Island.  

© Gordon La Praik.

The ovulid’s mantle of camouflage

The ovulid’s shell is covered with a highly colored mantle with sharply contrasting spots, the result of an accumulation of otherwise noxious chemicals retained from their food.

When under attack, the ovulid is camouflaged as the mantle’s colours confound its predators.

Ovulids often look like sea slugs, especially when the shell is hidden and only the mantle is visible.

Phenacovolva (Pellasimnia) weaveri pseudogracilis.

© G La Praik.

How the ovulid gets its colour

Ovulids (and allied cowries) feed on the tissues, mucus and polyps of their soft coral host. By absorbing pigments from the food, they closely match the host’s colour.

The soft coral host continually regrows the lost tissue, so the ovulid never runs out of food.

Above: Crenavolva rosewateri eating it’s host’s tissues.  

© G La Praik.

Gordon La Praik found species from 4 sub-families of Ovulidae on the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

Aclyvolvinae

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Prionovolvinae

Simniinae

 

The following images are of live and preserved cowries.

 

Family Ovulidae

Sub-Family Aclyvolvinae

Genus Aclyvolva

 

Family Ovulidae

Sub-Family Ovulinae

Genus Pellasimnia

 

Family Ovulidae

Sub-Family Ovulinae

Genus Phenacovolva

 

Family Ovulidae

Sub-Family Ovulinae

Genus Volva

 

Family Ovulidae

Sub-Family Prionovolvinae (Eocypraeinae)

Genus Crenavolva

 

Family Ovulidae

Sub-Family Prionovolvinae (Eocypraeinae)

Genus Dentiovula

 

Family Ovulidae

Sub-Family Prionovolvinae (Eocypraeinae)

Genus Globovula

 

Family Ovulidae

Sub-Family Prionovolvinae (Eocypraeinae)

Genus Margovula

 

Family Ovulidae

Sub-Family Prionovolvinae (Eocypraeinae)

Genus Primovula

 

Family Ovulidae

Sub-Family Prionovolvinae (Eocypraeinae)

Genus Prionovolva

 

Family Ovulidae

Sub-Family Prionovolvinae (Eocypraeinae)

Genus Prosimnia

 

Family Ovulidae

Sub-Family Prionovolvinae (Eocypraeinae)

Genus Pseudosimnia (Diminovula)

 

Family Ovulidae

Sub-Family Simniinae

Genus Cymbovula

 

Family Ovulidae

Genus Calpurnus

 

View the other main galleries.

Alcyonacea

Antipatharia

About Gordon La Praik

A story of curiosity, improvisation, innovation, and an enduring passion that became a life-long obsession.

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