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Fasciolaria australasia (Perry, 1811)

Description: Widely variable in shape and degree of nodulation. The deep water NSW form (Fig. 1) is tall and slender, with rounded or slightly angled whorls. Spire whorls bear nodules in the centre of the whorls, sometimes obsolete on the body whorl. Spiral sculpture consists of strong primary ribs with a secondary rib in each interspace. Outer lip weakly lirate internally, with several denticles at the anterior end in mature shells. Columella calloused with three plaits anteriorly. Posterior canal well defined, bordered by a strong spiral ridge on the parietal wall. Exterior colour white or light brown, with a thin fawn periostracum; interior white.

Size: Up to 185 mm in length.

Distribution: Endemic to Australia; Moreton Bay, Queensland, to Esperance, WA, including Tasmania.

Habitat: In Victoria and Tasmania, the species occurs intertidally on rocky shores as well as subtidally, but in NSW it is found at depths of 50-500m. Common.

Comparison: Similar in general form to whelks of the subfamily Buccininae, but distinguished by the three plaits on the columella.

Remarks: The species occurs over a wide range of latitude and depth and shows a corresponding variation of form. Shells from shallower water in southern NSW are broad and heavy, and often strongly nodulose (Fig. 2) and were named Fasciolaria coronata Lamarck, 1822. Intertidal specimens from Victoria and Tasmania. (Fig. 3) are comparatively squat in form, and darker brown with a dark brown periostracum. The elongate form (Fig. 1) occurs in eastern Victoria, NSW and southern Queensland, and has been given the variety name bakeri Gatliff & Gabriel, 1912. Intergrades occur between these named forms.

Fig. 1: Off Sydney (DLB1675)

Fig. 2: 7 miles off Montague Island, NSW, in 91 m (C.064296)

Fig. 3: Maria Island, Tasmania (DLB1694)


Copyright Des Beechey 2000