marine monday

Marine Monday: Tiger Cowrie

Posted Mon, Oct 3, 2011 by Meghan Bartels to marine life, marine monday, ocean life, snails, tiger cowrie

tiger cowrie

A tiger cowrie. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

You’ve probably seen tiger cowrie shells, which can be as large as six inches long. In cream, brown, and black, with a variety of patterns, they are so popular that they were once used as money.

The residents of these shells, which are a type of snail, are nocturnal. During the day, they take shelter from predators in coral reefs; at night, they eat algae and sponges. They can also eat fire coral and anemones despite their stings.

Most of the time, a live tiger cowrie’s shell is covered by its mantle, which is its outermost layer. The mantle forms spikes that may help the cowrie breathe or avoid predators. The cowrie can also pull its entire body inside its shell to protect itself.

Tiger cowries are found in tidal areas and shallow reefs in the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans. You can learn more about tiger cowries and hundreds of other marine animals in Oceana’s marine life encyclopedia.

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Marine Monday: Queen Triggerfish

Posted Mon, Sep 26, 2011 by Meghan Bartels to marine monday, marine wildlife, ocean animals, ocean encyclopedia, queen triggerfish

Happy Monday, ocean lovers! Today’s featured marine animal is the queen triggerfish. Found in coral reefs in the Caribbean and Eastern Atlantic shallow waters, this colorful fish is large and aggressive.

These fish greet intruders with throbbing sounds produced by special membranes. At night, they use their dorsal spine to lock themselves into their burrows so predators can’t pull them out to eat them.

Queen triggerfish are dedicated hunters and prey on lobsters, crabs, shellfish, and urchins. To avoid the sharp spines of sea urchins, they blow water under it to flip it upside-down and expose the safer underside. Sometimes they even pick a sea urchin up by one spine to perform this flip.

The species is considered vulnerable because of hunting pressure (it is popular for human consumption), and there is a possibility it would be at greater risk if its sea urchin prey experienced steep population declines.

You can learn more about queen triggerfish and hundreds of other marine animals from Oceana’s marine wildlife encyclopedia.

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