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Cypraea flaveola (Family Cypraeidae)

Yellow-tinted Cowrie


This species has a central Indo-West Pacific distribution. In Australia it ranges from North West Cape in WA across northern shores, including NT and Qld to central NSW (WA, NT, QLD, NSW).


This longish, oval-shaped cowrie has a flat base to its shell with thick, calloused and pitted margins. It grows to 25-30 mm in length. Its sculpture consists of strong, prominent ridges or "teeth" along both sides of the narrow aperture. The ridges on the outer lip extend almost to the shell margin.

The base colour is white with brown blotches. The sides are white with conspicuous dark brown spots. The top is fawn or olive green, tinged with yellow, with circular white spots and a distinctive mantle line.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Yellow-tinted Cowrie occurs at low-tide levels and below on rocky and coral shores. During the day, it hides in crevices and under stones, but at night it emerges to feed. The sexes are separate in cowries. The Female lays an oblong or circular egg-mass under stones. The egg-mass is made up of a gelatinous mass that contains hundreds of capsules. Every capsule holds 100 to 300 eggs, but only a small number develop in each capsule.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The cowries have oval-shaped, beautifully coloured and patterned shells. This makes them particularly attractive to shell collectors.

Other Comments:

Cypraea flaveola, Linnaeus, 1758. C. labrolineata, Gaskoin, 1848, is a synonym. The form C. l. nashi, Iredale, 1931 is an eastern Australian form. Cypraea comes from the Greek work Kypris, the Greeks' name for the goddess Aphrodite, with connotations of lewdness and licentious. Flaveola comes from the Latin word flavis meaning yellow.

Further Reading:

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.108, New Holland Press, Sydney.

Jansen, P. (2000), Seashells of South-East Australia. p.32, Capricornia Publications.

Wells, F.E. & Bryce, C.W. (1988). Seashells of Western Australia. p.72, Western Australian Museum. (As Cypraea labrolineata).

Wilson, B.R. & Gillett, K. (1979). A Field Guide to Australian Shells: Prosobranch Gastropods. p.88. Reed.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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