Friday, 13 June 2014

Cypraeovula capensis

Cypraeovula capensis (Gray, 1828)
Nahoon Reef, East London, South Africa
(click to enlarge)
When most people think of cowries, it is their smooth and glossy shell that comes to mind. Not all species of Cypraea fit this description however.

The accepted classification for this species is Cypraeovula capensis (Gray, 1828),  but I bought this example as Cypraea capensis elizabethensis (Rous, 1905) which is a synonym. It is found in South Africa but very few specimens have been taken alive. Its main features are the thin fins similar top those on a motorcycle cylinder and the darker dorsal blotch. What attracted me to this specimen was the shape of the dorsal blotch. It looked as if the mollusc was trying to draw a map of the African continent on its back.

The beach at East London, South Africa
photo: Lysippos

It is 22 mm. and was collected on a cliff face at the depth of 80 feet on Nahoon Reef, East London. The same specimen is illustrated (photo by George Sangiouloglou) here, but as the photograph is small I took another one. All of my own images are "public domain", so feel free to use them.

Should you be interested in diving at Nahoon Reef you should also be aware of the fact that this is a popular feeding ground for great white sharks and the following video shows a surfer being attacked by two of them above the reef. Happily, he survived the encounter.

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