This page last revised: 12-28-2022


Family Margaritidae & Solariellidae

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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.

Margarites beringiensis
Petersburg, AK
Margarites beringensis (E.A. Smith, 1899)
Bering Margarite
intertidal to subtidal          Vancouver Island, BC to Alaska          size to 10mm
This is occasionally found intertidally.  It is a glossy, dark brown, squat shell.  Some sources list this as synonymous with M. helicinus.  The two species can be found together in the same habitat, but are readily distinguished from each other.  This one is darker and more squat in height than the other. [The identity of this shell is in question.  Since this name is considered a synonym of M. helicinus and that species is not considered to exist where these have been found, we're unsure of its identity.]

Margarites helicinus Margarites helicinus
                                                            Petersburg, AK                                                                              Petersburg, AK, intertidal
Margarites helicinus Phipps, 1874
Helicina Margarite
intertidal to 182m          southern California to northern Alaska; Arctic Ocean          size to 10mm
This is occasionally found intertidally, especially in its northern range.  The shell is smooth, lightly glossy and may be light to medium brown.  It has a higher spire than M. beringiensis. [M. helicinus is no longer considered to be present on the west coast south of the Aleutians.  This is currently called Margarites olivaceus marginatus. More work needs to be done on the species.]
(synonym - Margarites marginatus)

Margarites pupillus Margarites pupillus
                                         Whiskey Creek Beach, WA                                                              Oak Bay, WA, intertidal

Margarites pupillus
off Bainbridge Island, WA, subtidal,
appears to be eating the eggs of a Lacuna on a Jointed Tubeworm

Solariella peramabilis
Departure Bay, BC
Solariella peramabilis (Carpenter, 1864)
Lovely Pacific Solarelle
subtidal, 15-600m          northern Mexico to central Alaska; Japan          size to 20mm
This shell has prominent spiral ridges and a deep umbilicus.
(synonym - Solariella rhyssa)

Solariella nuda
off southern Oregon coast
Solariella nuda Dall, 1896
Naked Solarelle
subtidal to 915m          north Mexico to Vancouver Island, BC          size to 20mm
This shell is grayish-white and almost completely smooth. 


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Solariella obscura
Nova Scotia, Canada
Solariella obscura (Couthouy, 1838)
Obscure Solarelle
subtidal to at least 730m          Arctic seas; North Pacific; North Atlantic          size to 13mm
The color may be grayish to pink-tan.  This species has thin spiral cords with very fine spiral grooves on the base.
(previous names -  Turbo obscurus, Margarita obscura, Machaeroplax obscura)

Solariella varicosa
Victoria, BC
Solariella varicosa (Mighels & Adams, 1842)
Varicose Solarelle
subtidal to 393m          size to 14mm
southern California to Alaska; circumarctic; north Atlantic - eastern Canada and Europe
This shell has a yellowish white color.  It has slight spiral ridges and more prominent
wavy vertical ridges.
(previous name - Margarita varicosa; synonyms - Margarita elegantissima, Margarita polaris, Margarites pauperculus)

Margarites pupillus (Gould, 1849)
Puppet Margarite *
intertidal to 100m          southern California to northern Alaska          size to 20mm
This is commonly found intertidally.  In most of its range the shell is small, around 10mm
or less.  It is light gray to pink in color and the interior may be pinkish.  The shell has low spiral ridges and a distinct umbilicus on the underside of the shell which helps distinguish it from
young Calliostoma ligatum.  In the northern part of its range, the shell grows much larger and
the umbilicus may close over as the shell thickens.  Worn shells become an irridescent silvery-pink color.

(synonyms - Trochus pupillus, Margarites salmoneus)