Chicoreus ramosus (Linnaeus, 1758)
180mm

Chicoreus ramosus is the largest of the Muricidae in the Marshalls, and is generally uncommon. It is found primarily on lagoon reefs and pinnacles, and occasionally gets together in groups of four or five individuals to mate and lay eggs. Sometimes they can been seen partially buried in sand during the day, as in the first photo below.

A group of four get together for mating on a Kwajalein lagoon pinnacle.

Egg capsules being deposited. The edge of the murex shell is to the left.

A close shot of the egg capsules. Capsules are generally attached to rocks under ledges or in small caves. Once we saw a cluster of capsules inside an old rubber truck tire.

Here's an odd case. This large C. ramosus was found next to a scar in the reef where a small giant clam Tridacna maxima had recently been pulled out. The empty Tridacna was found about a meter away and was close to the size of the murex. We have seen C. ramosus eating small Tridacna, but I do not think that was the case this time. I suspect a larger predator like a nurse shark may have ripped the clam from its hole, and the murex was attracted in by the clam's remaining byssal material (the white mass underneath the clam) in the vacated clam hole.

Created 1 October 2010
Updated 20 May 2012

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