Tuesday 21 May
European cowrie (Trivia monacha)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
European cowrie fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
European cowrie description
The European or spotted cowrie is a marine mollusc that has an egg-shaped glossy shell featuring many transverse ridges with a long, narrow aperture on the underside (2). The upper surface of the shell is usually a reddish brown colour, and has three characteristic spots that allow the species to be identified easily (3). The head, tentacles, foot and body of this mollusc are brightly coloured; they may be red, yellow, green, brown or orange (3).
- Also known as
- spotted cowrie.
- Aperture length: 13 mm (2)
- Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
- Inhabiting the open oceans.
- A marine zone between the littoral zone (the shallow zone where light reaches the bed, subject to submersion and exposure by tides) and depths of around 200m.
- An individual colony member of colonial invertebrates, such as bryozoans.
- NBN Species Dictionary (November 2002) http://yaw.nhm.ac.uk/nhm/
- Fish, J.D. & Fish, S. (1989) A students guide to the seashore. Unwin Hyman Ltd., London.
- Gibson, R., Hextall, B. & Rogers, A. (2001) Photographic Guide to the Sea & Shore Life of Britain and North-west Europe. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Buczacki, S. (2002) Fauna Britannica. Hamlyn, London.
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
European cowrie biology
This species feeds on sea squirts by biting lumps from the zooids(3). Breeding occurs in late spring and summer. The sexes are separate and fertilisation takes place internally following copulation. Females lay their eggs into sea squirts by biting holes in the colonies and then laying their flask-shaped egg capsules (each containing around 800 eggs) into the hole. After a few weeks the larvae hatch. They are free-swimming and pelagic for around a month (2) and are usually found in coastal waters during the summer (3).
In some parts of the world, large cowrie shells were once used as currency, but this did not occur in Britain. The word cowrie originates from the Hindu and Urdu languages, as cowries are very common in the Indian Ocean (4).Top
European cowrie rangeTop
European cowrie habitat
Found in association with its prey, colonial sea squirts (ascidians) including Botryllus schlosseri and Botylloides leachi (2) on the lower shore and in the sublittoral zone of rocky shores. It may also live in estuaries (3).Top
European cowrie status
Not threatened (2).Top
European cowrie threats
This species is not currently threatened.Top
European cowrie conservation
Conservation action has not been targeted at this species.Top
Find out more
For more information see: Fish, J.D. & Fish, S. (1989) A student’s guide to the seashore. Unwin Hyman Ltd., London.Top
AuthenticationThis information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: email@example.comTop
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Creative commons material
Any other use