Family Cymatiidae & 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
            Puget Sound, WA    without periostracum                                                               Freshwater Bay, WA, subtidal with eggs

Muricidae: Subfamily Pagodulinae
Boreotrophon multicostatus Boreotrophon multicostatus        Neah Bay, WA                                Port Hardy, BC
Boreotrophon 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)

Scabrotrophon stuarti Scabrotrophon stuarti
         San Juan Islands, WA       south end Queen Charlotte Strait, BC
Scabrotrophon 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 - Nipponotrophon stuarti, Boreotrophon stuarti, Trophonopsis stuarti, Trophon stuarti, Boreotrophon smithi)

Ceratostoma foliatum Ceratostoma foliatum eggs
   Anacortes, WA, intertidal, juvenile                       Pender Island, BC, intertidal, eggs

Nucella lamellosa Nucella lamellosa Nucella lamellosa Nucella lamellosa Nucella lamellosa
                  Blaine, WA                                 Tacoma, WA              Birch Bay, WA, intertidal           Whiskey Creek Beach, WA       LaPush, WA 

Nucella canaliculata Nucella canaliculata Nucella canaliculata Nucella canaliculata
 Whiskey Creek Beach, WA            Slip Point, WA, intertidal             Slip Point, WA, intertidal   Freshwater Bay, WA, intertidal, eggs
Muricidae: Subfamily Ocenebrinae
Ceratostoma foliatum Ceratostoma foliatum Ceratostoma foliatum
      Bremerton, WA                   Neah Bay, WA, intertidal                                       Freshwater Bay, WA, subtidal

Trophonopsis orpheus
Vancouver, BC
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 21m          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.    
(previous names - Thais canaliculata, Purpura canaliculata)

Nucella angustior
Petersburg, AK
Nucella lamellosa (Gmelin, 1791)
Frilled Dogwinkle 
intertidal to 10m         southern California to northern Alaska         size to 12.5cm
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 
           Varied locations                     Marrowstone Island, WA, intertidal                         Yachats, OR, intertidal, with eggs

Ocinebrellus inornatus Ocinebrellus inornatus Ocinebrellus inornatus
                 Boundary Bay, BC                                   Boundary Bay, BC, intertidal                Boundary Bay, BC,eggs
Ocinebrellus inornatus (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.  This was recently moved back to the genus Ocinebrellus, although this may change yet again as more study is needed.  The recent DNA research conclusively removed it from Ocenebra.
(synonyms - Ocenebra inornata, Ceratostoma inornatumOcinebrina inornata, Ocenebra japonica)

Paciocinebrina atropurpurea
Makah Bay, WA
Paciocinebrina 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.  
(previous name - Ocinebrina atropurpurea, Ocenebra atropurpurea)

Nucella ostrina
Bremerton, WA, intertidal, eggs
Paciocinebrina interfossa Paciocinebrina interfossa
               Port Hardy, BC                                       Sooke, BC, intertidal
Paciocinebrina 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 - Ocinebrina interfossa, Ocenebra interfossa, Tritonalia interfossa, Ocenebra clathrata, Ocenebra fraseri)

Paciocinebrina lurida Paciocinebrina lurida Paciocinebrina lurida Paciocinebrina lurida
 Whiskey Creek Beach, WA       Anacortes, WA, intertidal                           Anacortes, WA, intertidal      Freshwater Bay, WA, subtidal 
Paciocinebrina 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 - Ocinebrina lurida, Ocenebra lurida, Urosalpinx lurida, Tritonalia lurida, Tritonium luridum, Ocenebra rotunda)   

Nucella angustior Houart, Vermeij & Wiedrick, 2019

intertidal           northern BC to east of the Aleutian Islands, AK          size to 32mm
Somewhat common to find in southeast Alaska, but very difficult to find in BC.  It has a low spire comprising less than 30% of the shell's height. It shows spiral corded sculpture. This species was recently separated from Nucella lima.  Genetic studies showed there to be two separate species and N. lima exists from the Aleutians westward to Kamchatka.

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.  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.

Paciocinebrina sclera
Neah Bay, WA     


Muricidae: Subfamily Trophinae
Scabrotrophon maltzani
Tunstal Bay, BC
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: 8-15-2019

Urosalpinx cinerea Urosalpinx cinerea
all photos of shells and eggs from Willapa Bay, WA, intertidal

Paciocinebrina 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 - Ocinebrina sclera, Ocenebra sclera, Urosalpinx sclera)

Urosalpinx cinerea
egg cases

Urosalpinx cinerea Say, 1822
Atlantic Oyster Drill
intertidal to 15m          size to 43mm
northern Florida to southeast Canada; introduced to west coast
 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
  Birch Bay State Park, intertidal, with eggs         Port Hardy, BC, 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)