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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Zebra Nerite Puperita pupa

The small, rounded, smooth, black-and-white striped shell of the zebra nerite is typical of the species, but in examples from Florida the shell is sometimes more mottled or speckled with black. These gastropods are most active during the day, when they feed on microorganisms such as diatoms and cyanobacteria, but if they become too hot or they are exposed at low tide, they cluster together, withdraw into their shells, and become inactive. This may be a mechanism for preventing excessive water loss.

Unusually for gastropods, there are separate males and females of zebra nerites and fertilization of the eggs occurs internally. The males use their penis to deposit sperm into a special storage organ inside the female. Later, she lays a series of small white eggs that hatch into planktonic larvae.

Zebra Neritezoom image
  • Class Gastropoda
  • Length Up to in (1 cm)
  • Habitat Rocky tide pools
  • Distribution Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida
Zebra Nerite Habitat Mapzoom image