Ovulids (False Cowries)
Ovula ovum on its food - a soft coral. Note the mantle flaps covering the shell. Koumac, New Caledonia, October 1993. PHOTO: Bill Rudman.
The ovulids (Family Ovulidae) are cowry shaped snails with large colourful mantles which usually completely cover the shell. In many ways they have evolved defensive strategies which mirror those found in the nudibranchs. They have bright colourful bodies and retain noxious chemicals from their food. These chemicals are stored in their skin where they can protect the snail from fish predation. In the photo above, the only part of the shell that is visible is the white region at the front (left side of photo) of the animal. The black tube (also at the front) is the siphon which directs water into the mantle cavity inside the shell. If you look at the base of the head tentacle (below the siphon) there is a black swelling which is the left eye. One easy way to separate snails from slugs is to look for their eyes. If they are raised from the skin like this then they are a snail. If the eyes are embedded in the skin they are an opisthobranch. Externally they look very like the Cowries (Cypraeidae).
Ovula ovum with eggs from Tofo, Mozambique
From: Natasja Vandeperre, August 23, 2007
Ovula ovum from Indonesia
From: Carrie Lo, May 22, 2007
Ovulid from Sydney
From: Sean McMahon, December 1, 2006
Ovulid snail from Malaysia
From: Sven-Urban Fjellner, August 26, 2006
Cowry or False Cowry or ???
From: Pasquale Pascullo, March 1, 2006
What's this interesting beauty?
From: Gary Cobb, August 28, 2003
West Indian ovulid in Bonaire
From: Sebastian Schulherr, May 27, 2003
Calpurnus verrucosus from Red Sea
From: Michael Mrutzek, September 25, 2002
Please help! - animal on gorgonian
From: Adam Bright, September 3, 2002