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Cerithium coralium Kiener, 1841

Description: Spire whorls sculptured with 3 spiral rows of nodules aligned on axial folds, with about 15 smooth spiral riblets crossing the axials. Body whorl with 3 spiral rows of nodules above the periphery and smooth spirals of varying strength below. Columella smooth, body whorl expanded; aperture usually lirate within. Outer lip with sinus posteriorly, and strong varix externally; earlier varix an axial bulge three-quarters of whorl before outer lip, aligned with anterior canal. Anterior canal short; posterior canal well defined in mature shells. Colour dark brown, usually weathered to grey. Operculum corneous.

Size: Up to 28 mm in length.

Distribution: Indo-West Pacific. In Australia, Shark Bay, WA, around northern Australia to Sydney, NSW.

Habitat: On mud in mangroves, estuaries and river mouths, where it feeds on detritus. Abundant in the tropics, uncommon in NSW.

Comparison: This could be mistaken for small specimens of Batillaria australis, which lives in the same habitat but is much more common in NSW. But C. coralium has finer sculpture than that species, and a strong varix on the lip.

Remarks: From Sydney Harbour this is known from only a few 19th century records, but it appears to have an extant population in Manly Lagoon, and becomes more common northwards.

Fig. 1: Manly Lagoon, NSW (C.426392)


Copyright Des Beechey 2005