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Siphonaria tasmanica (Family Siphonariidae)

Blue Siphon Shell


This species has a limited distribution and ranges from Wilson's Promontory, central Victoria, around Tasmanian shores to south-eastern South Australia. (VIC, TAS, SA)


The Blue Siphon Shell is easily identified from other siphon shells by its less prominent ribs, its distinctive blue exterior colour, and purplish-brown interior. It is a medium sized siphon shell with a thin, oval, and conical shaped shell, with its apex toward the rear and the left. It grows to a length of 15-23 mm and a width of 20 mm.

The shell sculpture consists of 40 - 50 flat, rounded, radial ribs crossed by concentric growth striations. The shell is often eroded. The ribs cause the shell margin to be crenulated (bumpy). The siphonal groove is conspicuous both inside and out, and above is easily picked out as a distinctive double rib.

The Blue Siphon Shell's external surface is a bluish colour, with patchy, concentric, brown bands, that meet to form a brown apex. The shining interior rich purplish to chocolate brown, while the spatula and siphonal canal are white. The animal is brown, with a yellowish foot.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Blue Siphon Shell occurs in sheltered areas and crevices at high tide levels and below on medium to high-energy coasts. It is locally common. It is usually found on vertical rock faces, on open coasts. It prefers to be in damper locations than Siphonaria funiculata. It may be found with Siphonaria diemenensis and Siphonaria baconi.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

Due to its restricted distribution to the colder waters of western Victoria, Tasmania and south-eastern South Australia, if an environmental disaster such as an oil spill occurred in the region, then this species could be put in danger. Environmental warming might also be a major threat.

Other Comments:

Another common name is the Tasmanian Siphon Shell.

Further Reading:

Bennett, I. (1987). W.J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores. p. 307, Angus and Robertson.

Davey, K. (1998). A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p. 118, New Holland Press.

Edgar, G.J. (1997). Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p. 268, Reed.

Macpherson, J.H. and Gabriel, C.J. (1962). Marine Molluscs of Victoria. p. 262, Melbourne Univ. Press.

Marine Research Group of Victoria. (1984). Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria: an atlas of selected species. p. 79, Museum of Victoria.

Shepherd, S.A. and Thomas, I.M. (1989). Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia. pt. II. p. 612, South Aust. Govt. Press. (As Liriola (Pachysiphonaria) tasmanica).


Text, map and photograph by Keith Davey.

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