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Amoria hunteri (Iredale, 1931)

Description: Shell moderately lightweight; whorls sharply angled, with a row of spines at shoulder, these becoming obsolete on last third of the body whorl; otherwise smooth and glossy. Aperture more than three-quarters total shell length; columella with four strong plaits with undercut sides. Outer lip flared, thickened internally along its entire length. Background colour fawn to reddish-orange, marked with axial zigzag brown lines and spiral bands of purple-grey patches, although either may be absent or poorly developed.

Size: Adults 85-186 mm, commonly 90-140 mm in length.

Distribution: Endemic to Australia; Capricorn Channel, off Townsville, Queensland, to Eden, NSW, with an isolated population around Pith Reef, off Innisfail, Queensland (Bail & Limpus, 2001).

Habitat: Known from 25-225 metres, and rarely as a beach shell. Commonly taken off Sydney in about 100 metres.

Remarks: This species exists as a northern deep water form and a southern shallow water form, as described by Bail & Limpus (2001). According to these authors, the northern population (Fig. 2) occurs in 180-225 m from the Capricorn Channel and eastern Swain Reefs, southwards to about the NSW-Queensland border. The southern population (Fig. 1) occurs in 25-90 m from Fraser Island in southern Queensland to around Eden in the far south of NSW.

Bail & Limpus describe the differences between the two populations:

 The southern population "is characterized by its large size, a papilliform protoconch of 3.5 whorls, an elongate shape with erect spines sometimes followed anteriorly by attenuated axial ribs. Base colour variable cream or fawn, occasionally pale gray/brown, overlaid by thin, brown axial zigzag lines, often interrupted or obsolete, crossed by two brown to pale bluish revolving bands on the body whorl".

 The northern population "can be distinguished by its smaller size, a large conical protoconch of 4.2 whorls, a row of small spines placed slightly more posteriorly giving a more tumid outline. Aperture is slightly narrower and less angled posteriorly. Colour and pattern are different: base colour cream with conspicuous axial orange zigzag lines, of varying thickness and number, crossed by two strong violet spiral bands".

Fig. 1. Off Sydney in 30 fathoms (55 m) (DLB2041)

Fig. 2 Capricorn Channel, NE of Lady Musgrave Is, Queensland, in 120 fathoms (219 m) (DLB1947)


Copyright Des Beechey 2004