Family Ranellidae & Muricidae

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Click on photo to enlarge.  Scale line in photo equals 1cm unless otherwise specified.
* Species which are commonly encountered on the beach.

 Fusitriton oregonensis
photographed in an aquarium

Fusitriton oregonensis Fusitriton oregonensis Fusitriton oregonensis Fusitriton oregonensis 
                                            without periostracum                                                             photographed subtidally with eggs

Muricidae: Subfamily Trophinae
Boreotrophon multicostatus Boreotrophon multicostatusBoreotrophon multicostatus (Eschscholtz, 1829)
Ribbed Trophon
intertidal to 15m          size to 17mm
southern California to central Alaska
This is occasionally found intertidally, but mostly in Alaska.  The shell has sharp-edged ribs which slightly fold over.
(previous name - Trophon multicostatus)

Fusitriton oregonensis (Redfield, 1848)
Oregon Triton
intertidal to 180m          size to 15cm
northern Mexico to northern Alaska; Japan
This is rarely found intertidally.  This otherwise white shell has a thick, hairy periostracum.  It lays its distinctive eggs on vertical rock faces.
This is the state shell of Oregon.
(synonyms - Argobuccinum oregonesis, Argobuccinum pacifica, Argobuccinum coosense, Ranella oregonense, Gyrineum corbiculatum)

Nipponotrophon stuarti Nipponotrophon stuarti
Nipponotrophon stuarti (A.E. Smith, 1880)
Winged Trophon
intertidal to 100m          size to 60mm
southern California to northern Alaska
This is rarely found intertidally.  A juvenile shell exhibits prominent crosshatch sculpturing.  As the shell grows, the ribs develop into flared varices.  The size of these can vary.
(synonyms - Boreotrophon stuarti, Trophonopsis stuarti, Trophon stuarti, Boreotrophon smithi)

Ceratostoma foliatum Ceratostoma foliatum eggs
                   juvenile          (both photographed intertidally)             eggs

Nucella analoga Nucella analoga Nucella analoga
                                                                                                                              photographed intertidally
 Nucella analoga (Forbes, 1852) *
It has been proposed that this is a separate species than Nucella canaliculata and would be called Nucella analoga.  
  This shell has tightly packed spiral cords which are not as prominently projecting as N. canaliculata.  The interspaces are not angular and are filled with secondary cords.  It exhibits the same range of color patterns.  While the two overlap in a large part of their range, N. analoga extends from California to southern Alaska and N. canaliculata would exist from Washington to northern Alaska. Previous DNA studies only included specimens from California to Washington.  The two may also prefer different habitats.  They also get confused with N. lima.  
Further research is needed to determine which shell forms belong to which species.    
(synonyms - Purpura analoga, Thais canaliculata var. compressa)

Nucella lamellosa Nucella lamellosa Nucella lamellosa Nucella lamellosa Nucella lamellosa
                                                                                                                                                 all photographed intertidally                                 

Nucella canaliculata Nucella canaliculata Nucella canaliculata Nucella canaliculata
                                                                                       all photographed intertidally                                                           with eggs            
Muricidae: Subfamily Ocenebrinae
Ceratostoma foliatum Ceratostoma foliatum Ceratostoma foliatum
                                                           photographed subtidally                                   photographed intertidally

Trophonopsis orpheus
Trophonopsis orpheus (Gould, 1849)
Corded Trophon
subtidal to 150m          size to 25mm
southern California to central Alaska
This shell has spiral cording and prominent, thick ribs.  It also has a long siphonal canal.
(previous names - Boreotrophon orpheus, Trophon orpheus, Ocenebra orpheus)

Nucella canaliculata (Duclos, 1832)
Channeled Dogwinkle *
intertidal to at least 18m          central California to northern Alaska          size to 40mm
This is common to find.  The shell may be a uniform gray-brown or brightly striped with orange, yellow or white.  It has strong spiral cording with varying degrees of spacing between them.  The interspaces between the cords are sharply angular.  
(previous names - Thais canaliculata, Purpura canaliculata)

Nucella lima

Nucella lamellosa (Gmelin, 1791)
Frilled Dogwinkle 
intertidal to 10m          size to 12.5cm
southern California to northern Alaska
This is very commonly found intertidally.  It is highly variable in color, shape and sculpturing.  These factors vary with habitat.    The shells may be smooth to highly frilled, drab and gray to white, orange, purple or brightly striped.  Where rock crabs are evident, the shells become thick and heavy to avoid being eaten by the crabs. In some areas their spires are very elongated.   Large clusters of their eggs are often seen in spring and early summer.
(synonyms - Thais lamellosa, Thais lamellosa cymica, Thais lamellosa hormica, Thais lamellosa franciscana, Thais lamellosa neptunea, Thais lamellosa sitkana, Buccinum lamellosa, Purpura crispata)

Nucella ostrina Nucella ostrina Nucella ostrina 
                                                                photographed intertidally                                               with eggs

Ocinebra inornata Ocinebra inornata Ocinebra inornata
                                                                               photographed intertidally                            with eggs
Ocenebra inornata (Récluz, 1851)
Japanese Oyster Drill
intertidal           Japan; introduced to BC, Washington & California          size to 50mm
This is common where there are populations of it, but it is not widespread to every beach.  It primarily preys on oysters and is considered invasive and very detrimental to the oyster industry.  The shell can be variable.  It can have low to moderate flaring of the vertical ribs.  The color is usually white to drab gray but there are populations of it that exhibit yellows to orange to pink colors also and it can be quite pretty and have sizeable varix flares.  The siphonal canal may be slightly open to completely closed.
(synonyms - Ocinebrellus inornatus, Ceratostoma inornatumOcinebrina inornata, Ocenebra japonica)

Ocinebrina atropurpurea
Ocinebrina atropurpurea (Carpenter, 1865)
Purple Rocksnail
intertidal to 30m          size to 12mm
northern Mexico to northern BC
This is rarely seen intertidally in our area.  The shell has prominent crosshatch sculpturing.  The color may be white to purplish-brown.  Some references list this as a synonym of O. interfossa.
(previous name - Ocenebra atropurpurea)

Nucella ostrina
close-up of eggs
Ocinebrina interfossa Ocinebrina interfossa
                                                                       photographed intertidally
Ocinebrina interfossa (Carpenter, 1864)
Sculptured Rocksnail
intertidal to 100m          size to 25mm
northern Mexico to Alaska
This is commonly found intertidally.  The shell sculpture is somewhat variable, from prominent to somewhat muted.  The color may be light brown to dark purplish-brown.  The inside of the aperture is usually dark.
(synonyms - Ocenebra interfossa, Tritonalia interfossa, Ocenebra clathrata, Ocenebra fraseri)

Ocinebrina lurida Ocinebrina lurida Ocinebrina lurida Ocinebrina lurida
                                                                                    photographed intertidally                                             photographed subtidally
Ocinebrina lurida (Middendorff, 1849)
Lurid Rocksnail *
intertidal to 200m          northern Mexico to central Alaska          size to 40mm
This is commonly found intertidally.  The color ranges from yellow to orange to brown.  The shell exhibits even spiral cords.  It also has widely spaced vertical ribbing which may be almost absent to distinct.  Usually the vertical ribs are evident on at least the early whorls.
(synonyms - Ocenebra lurida, Urosalpinx lurida, Tritonalia lurida, Tritonium luridum, Ocenebra rotunda)   

Nucella lima (Gmelin, 1791)
File Dogwinkle
intertidal to subtidal          northern BC to northern Alaska          size to 50mm
This is fairly common to find in Alaska, but very difficult to find in BC.  There is much confusion surrounding this species as to how variable it might be.  Many photos of it are actually N. canaliculata, or potentially N. analoga.  The classic form of this shell is a short spire and very tall aperture.  It may be bland in color or striped in yellow or white.  Our photo is of specimens in SE Alaska.  More study needs to be done on this species.
(previous name - Thais lima)

Nucella ostrina (Gould, 1852)
Northern Striped Dogwinkle *
intertidal          northern California to northern Alaska          size to 40mm
This is very commonly found.  The shell is highly variable.  It typically has a short spire and tall aperture compared to the height of the shell.  The spire height can vary also.  The shell has spiral ribs which may or may not be pronounced.  In some areas, the shell also exhibits "frills" on the ribs.  Color varies from solid to striped, and may be white to orange to brown to black.  Its eggs are more stubby looking than those of the other Nucellas.  This species was once called Nucella emarginata, but that is now considered a separate species and occurs from about southern Oregon to northern Mexico.  Where the ranges overlap, it is extremely difficult to tell the shells apart.

Ocinebrina sclera Ocinebrina sclera
                                                              photographed intertidally (very low tide)


Scabrotrophon maltzani
Scabrotrophon maltzani
(Kobelt & Kuster, 1878)
intertidal to 1000m          size to 50mm
northern Mexico to northern Alaska
This is rarely found intertidally.  The shell has spiral cords and axial ridges with a tall spire and a very long aperture, which give it an overall slender appearance.
(synonyms - Trophon maltzani, Nipponotrophon maltzani,Trophonopsis lasiusTrophonopsis tenuisculptus, Trophon subserratus)

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This page last revised: 2-12-2016

Urosalpinx cinerea Urosalpinx cinerea
                                                                                                                                  photographed intertidally

Ocinebrina sclera (Dall, 1919)
Sclera Rocksnail
very low intertidal to subtidal          size to at least 42.6mm
central California to northern BC
This is very rarely seen intertidally and then only on an exceptional low tide on the outer coast.  The shell has even spiral cords and widely spaced vertical cords. The color may be orange to brown.  It is similar in appearance to O. lurida, but has a wider body whorl and deeper suture lines.
(previous name - Ocenebra sclera, Urosalpinx sclera)

Urosalpinx cinerea
egg cases

Urosalpinx cinerea Say, 1822
Atlantic Oyster Drill
intertidal to 15m          size to 43mm
northern Florida to southern Canada; introduced from central California to southern BC in oyster beds
It can be common where introduced, near commercial oyster production in river estuaries.      

Nucella lamellosa Nucella lamellosa
                       with eggs                                        close-up of eggs
Ceratostoma foliatum (Gmelin, 1791)
Leafy Hornmouth *
intertidal to 65m          size to 10cm
southern California to central Alaska
This is fairly common to find intertidally.  The juveniles exhibit crosshatch sculpturing.  The axial ribs grow to large flares as it matures.  The adults may be plain white to purplish and may be striped.  At the base of the aperture there is a projecting tooth.  It lays a distinctive egg case.
(previous names - Pterorytis foliatus, Purpura foliatum, Murex foliatum)