If you have ever been to the observation tanks at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, you may have noticed the large ovoid shells along the walls or hiding under the coral heads. These majestic creatures are Tiger cowries, Cypraea tigris.1 a large sea snail under the phylum of Mollusca, and over the past two years I have been using them as model organisms to examine the palatability and chemical defenses of sponges found throughout Kaneohe bay. Yes, these snails are actually nocturnal predators that feed on sponges, very frequently found eating the invasive orange keyhole sponge, Mycale grandis, and they are quite peculiar organisms.
|Tiger Cowry with Brown Mantle|
|Tiger Cowry with Green Mantle|
Left = Hawaiian Tiger Cowrie (11cm length)
Right = Tiger Cowrie from Indo-Pacific (7 cm length)
- Linnaeus, C. Systema naturae per regna tria naturae: secundum classes, odines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. 10th edition ed. Stockholm: Laurentius Salvius
- Reid, C.E. Comparison of shell pigmentation and size in Cypraea tigris. Accessed: November 26, 2018. https://www.gbri.org.au/Species/Cypraeatigris.aspx?PageContentID=2042
- MolluscaBase (2018). Cypraea tigris schilderiana C. N. Cate, 1961. Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at: http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=574019 on 2018-11-26