Animal life

Protected bivalves of the Istrian seabed

Zupka - The Cowrie Shell 

The cowrie shell or Luria lurida (Linné, 1758) is a species of sea snail in the family Cypraeidae, the cowries.  Although a fairly rare sea snail, it can be found all over the Adriatic.

The shell of this sea snail has a specific elongated oval shape. A very narrow aperture is situated on the underside; in adult cowries this aperture is toothed. The cowrie's shell has a strong porcelain-like layer. The surface of the shell is greyish-brown in colour with two lighter transversal stripes while the bottom is a light creamy colour. Two characteristic dark spots can be found on each of its orange ends. The shells can grow up to 6 cm.
The cowrie shell mainly lives in deeper waters, most often between depths of 20 to 30 m, usually along the coast where rocks and corals can be found. They live on hard rocky surfaces, hiding during the day under rocks and in crevices, only leaving their hiding place at night to go in search of food, mainly corals and sponges. The cowrie shell reproduces by laying eggs.

The cowrie shell is recognized for its beauty and rarity and is therefore protected by the Nature Protection Act which prohibits taking it out of its natural habitat, or deliberately damaging or destroying it.

Foreign names:
Italian: Le cipree
German: Porzellanschnecken