Bulla ampulla
Linnaeus, 1758

Family: Bullidae


Found throughout the tropical Indo-West Pacific.


Koumac, northern New Caledonia, October 1993. PHOTO: Bill Rudman.

Species of Bulla are found both in tropical and temperate waters. They are herbivorous but they seem to be quite unrelated to any other herbivorous group or to any other group of opisthobranchs for that matter. They have a strange relatively soft radula, and the gizzard has three large crushing plates and ancillary spines rather than the grinding plates of the other herbivores such as Haminoea. The Bullidae seem to have evolved separately from a very early stage in the evolutionary history of the opisthobranchs, although some recent hypotheses disagree with this interpretation.

All species of Bulla have very similarly shaped shells and there is clearly some confusion in their taxonomy at present. Unfortunately little difference has been found in the morphology of the radular teeth, or any other part of the anatomy, of the species of the genus that have been investigated. See my comments on Bulla vernicosa and other similar species in my reply to messages #1511 and #15367.

They appear to be nocturnal, burrowing in soft sediment or hiding under coral slabs during the day.

  • Rudman,W.B.(1971). Structure and functioning of the gut in the Bullomorpha (Opisthobranchia). Part 1. Herbivores. Journal of Natural History, 5: 647-675.
Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 1998 (December 18) Bulla ampulla Linnaeus, 1758. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/factsheet/bullampu

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