This page links to some members of the family Muricidae. Most of the muricids are primarily hard reef dwellers. In many species the shells quickly become coated with calcareous encrustations. This often helps them blend in very well with their normal surroundings, so that some species are often or even usually found exposed on the reef by day. The Chicoreus and Chicomurex, however, typically have a sponge-like red covering that appears to inhibit external encrustation, at least until the coat wears off. The presence of this red coat on most Chicoreus, especially the younger and cleaner specimens, had me thinking that it might be a kind of periostracum produced by the mollusk. Even very tiny individuals of Chicoreus brunneus, for example, bear a thick red coat. The red tends to wear away as the shells get older, allowing corals and other encrusting organism to attach to the shell, much like a periostracum wears off with age. However, we have seen channels in the red coats on some murexes that look a lot like those of sponges. If it really is a sponge, it must have a pretty tight symbiotic relationship with some of these murexes. Most of the Kwajalein murexes are fairly easily recognized, except for the Favartia. With the references we have, they are not easy to identify, so most of our IDs within that genus are tentative. There are a number of other species, particularly in the Morula, Drupa and related genera, for which we do not have living animal photographs. At some point, we hope to add these in, even if only as photos of empty shells.
Kwajalein Underwater home
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