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Australium tentoriiforme (Family Turbinidae)

Tent Shell


The Tent Shell ranges from south-eastern Queensland, down the New South Wales coast into Victoria (Edgar): Common, Hopetoun to Shark Bay, W.A. (Wells & Bryce) (QLD, NSW, VIC, WA).


The common name Tent Shell describes its conical bell-tent shape, and its flattened base. Side on, the silhouette is almost a triangle. Grows to 30 - 50 mm tall. This shell has a rich nacre finish, with a delicate tint of purple. The mouth opening at the base is very angled (oblique). The white operculum is small and smooth, with one rib. The umbilicus is covered.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Tent Shell is a spiral-shelled gastropod in the turban (Family Turbinidae) group, which are closely related to the trochids (Family Trochidae). It occurs on rocky ocean shores, usually in deep, protected rock pools, from mid-tide level downwards. It may be seen on the vivid pink coralline algae encrusted rock surfaces. It is a grazing species, feeding on micro-algae that coat rocks.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

Although beautiful, it does not match its Western Australian relatives, where the beautiful vibrant blue colouring has caused western shells to be sought for jewellery.

Other Comments:

Other names for the Tent Shell have been Australium tentorium, Bellastraea sirius (Gould, 1849), Astraea sirius (Hedley, 1923) and Astraea tentoriiformis (Jonas, 1844), Australium tentoriforme and Astralium tentoriformis (Jones, 1845).

Further Reading:

Bennett, I. (1987), W.J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores. p. 278, Angus & Robertson.

Davey, K. (1988), A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia, p. 95, New Holland.

Edgar, G.J. (1997), Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p.244 (as Astralium tentoriformis). Reed.

Macpherson, J.H. & Gabriel, C.J. (1962), Marine Molluscs of Victoria. see under Bellastraea kesteveni, p. 81, Melbourne University Press.

Wells, F.E., & Bryce, C.W. (1988), Seashells of Western Australia, p. 46, Western Australian Museum.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey

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