This is an Atlantic Deer Cowrie (Cypraea Cervus)
size: 2-3, max 5 inches
Depth: 1-40 feet
Description: Bulbous-shaped shell. Covered with white spots, the larger of which often have brown centers. Black, gray and brown mottled mantle with occasional white blotches and numerous fleshy, spike-like projections.
Abundance & Distribution: occasional–rare Florida, Caribbean
Habitat & Behavior: inhabit reefs. Camouflage by extending mantle over shell. The shell’s lustrous finish is produced by the fleshy mantle, which can cover the entire outer surface.
Diet: Cowries are algae eaters and grazers. They need plenty of algae to graze on, both tiny microalgae and larger macroalgaes, including “”nuisance algaes”" like the filamented hair algaes that plague some aquariums.
Fun Facts: Get ready to be slimed!! In some countries, the cowrie shell represents fertility, and is given to brides to guarantee offspring and provide a safe delivery. In other countries, it was believed that the shell protected against the evil eye. They were also attached to fishing nets to promise a good catch. The golden cowrie from the Fiji and Solomon Islands is a symbol of power and rank for chieftains. Cowries have also been used in art, as money, jewelry and as religious symbols since the beginning of man.
Information & Research by Elizabeth Wombold
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