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Umbraculum umbraculum (Family Umbraculidae)

Umbrella Shell



The Umbrella Shell has an Indo-West Pacific distribution. In Australia this species has a tropical distribution and ranges from the Houtman Abrolhos, WA, across northern and eastern shores, including NT and all Qld shores, to the Eden region of southern NSW (WA, NT, QLD, NSW).


The Umbrella Shell is an unusual-looking, blob-shaped, 'wart' covered mollusc. It has a medium-sized limpet-shaped shell, but the body is large and cannot be withdrawn under its smaller shell that sits high on top. The Umbrella Shell grows to a length of 140-150mm. Its large gill is at the front right side of the body. It doesn't have a jaw, but it does have a many-toothed radula. It has a large fleshy foot and its head is peculiar in form. Algae and encrusting animals usually cover the animal's shell. The body has a thick, roughened covering that is called a periostracum. Its colour is light brown on the warty areas, surrounded by darker brown areas.

Ecology/Way of Life:

It is found in intertidal rockpools and on moderately exposed rocky reefs at the lowest tide levels and below to 20 meters. The Umbrella Shell has excellent disruptive camouflage and this makes it extremely difficult to see in its habitat.

Preferred Image

Other Comments:

Umbraculum umbraculum (Lighfoot 1786). Schumacher created the generic name Umbraculum in 1817. Umbraculum sinicum is a synonym.

Umbraculum is a Latin dim. word for umbra, meaning shade or shadow, and umbraculum means an umbrella shaped structure.

Further Reading:

Bennett, I. (1987). W. J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores: a guide to the temperate shores for the beach-lover, the naturalist, the shore-fisherman and the student. p.299-300, Angus & Robertson.

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.121. New Holland Press, Sydney.

Edgar, G.J. (1997). Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p.276. Reed.

Macpherson, J.H. & Gabriel, C.J. (1962). Marine Molluscs of Victoria. p.251, Melbourne University Press.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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Images and Multi-media:  
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 139161 bytes Umbrella Shell
Distribution Map  
image/gif 1036 bytes Distribution of Umbrella Shell

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