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Charonia lampas rubicunda (Perry, 1811)

Description: Sculptured with strong spiral ribs and usually two low, narrow varices per whorl. There are at least two ribs on the shoulder and sometimes more; anterior ribs nodulose, nodules decreasing in size towards the lip and towards the base of the shell. Outer lip expanded, strongly lirate. Columella strongly calloused, with one strong posterior lira, and sometimes additional lirae anteriorly. Background coloration light fawn to red-brown, with irregular, axial dark brown streaks and some spiral rows alternating dark and light brown. Interior white, outer lip lirae brown, columellar callus white to brown. Operculum oval.

Size: Up to 265 mm in length. NSW intertidal specimens up to about 150 mm.

Distribution: Southport, Qld, to Abrolhos Islands, WA.

Habitat: Intertidal on exposed rocky shores between rocks and in crevices, and down to at least 500 m. Common intertidally where not subject to human predation.

Remarks: This shell was previously known as Charonia rubicunda, but is regarded by Beu (1970a) as a subspecies of the widely distributed species Charonia lampas (Linnaeus, 1758). Other subspecies (discussed in detail by Beu) are Charonia lampas lampas from the Mediterranean Sea and Eastern Atlantic; C. lampas pustulata Eurthyme, 1889 from South Africa; C. lampas sauliae (Reeve, 1844) from Japan, and C. lampas capax Finlay, 1927 from New Zealand.

This subspecies occurs over a wide depth range, becoming taller and paler in colour in deeper water in NSW and in shallower water to the south. Some of the Australian forms have been named; Charonia powelli Cotton, 1957 has been applied to a form from the Great Australian Bight; Charonia eucla Hedley, 1914 to a Western Australian deep water form and Charonia eucla instructa Iredale, 1929 to the NSW deep water form (Fig. 3).

Figs. 1,2: Reef Beach, Middle Harbour, NSW (DLB2006)

Fig. 3: Off Sydney, in 95 fathoms (DLB1994)


Copyright Des Beechey 2000