Neobernaya spadicea

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Neobernaya spadicea
Cypraea spadicea 1.jpg
A live Neobernaya spadicea, in situ, mantle partly extended, head end to the right
Neobernaya spadicea 001.jpg
An apertural view of a shell of the species, anterior end to the left
Scientific classification
N. spadicea
Binomial name
Neobernaya spadicea
(Swainson, 1823)
  • Cypraea spadicea (Swainson, 1823)
  • Zonaria spadicea

Neobernaya spadicea, common name the chestnut cowrie, is a species of sea snail in the cowrie family, Cypraeidae. Chestnut cowries can be found in the eastern Pacific Ocean, from central California to Baja California. The chestnut cowrie has a highly glossy shell due to an enamel that is secreted from its mantle.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The chestnut cowrie is the only species of cowrie in the eastern Pacific Ocean.[1][2] It can be found in intertidal zones from Monterey, California to Isla Cedros, Baja California.[2][3] It is common in Southern California, specifically around the Channel Islands.[1][3] Chestnut cowries are rare in the portion of their range that is north of Santa Barbara, California.[4][3]

Chestnut cowries live in kelp beds and rocky surfaces in intertidal and subtidal zones,[4][5] to a depth of 45 m.[2] Chestnut cowries are often found under rocks and protected crevices.[4][5]


The top of the shell displays a large irregularly shaped caramel colored spot, with a dark brown border.[4] The rest of the shell is white, including the bottom.[4] There is a narrow aperture with small teeth that spans the length of the underside of the shell.[6] The shell can grow until the cowrie reaches its adult form, then it stops.[5] When undisturbed, their orange spotted mantle extends around the outside of the shell; when fully extended it can completely cover the shell.[4][5] The shell is glossy due to an enamel that is secreted from the edges of the mantle.[4] Retracting and extending the mantle acts as a buffer, shining the shell while depositing new enamel.[4] The foot of this species is white.[4] The adult shell of this species ranges in size from 40 to 65 mm.[1]



The chestnut cowrie is a scavenger and carnivore; common food items include anemones, sponges, tunicates, eggs, and dead organisms.[2][3]


Chestnut cowries lay batches of eggs during the summer months.[3] Each batch consists of approximately 100 egg capsules with each egg capsule containing several hundred eggs.[3]


  1. ^ a b c McLean, James H. (1978). Marine Shells of Southern California. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. ISBN 978-0-938644-03-3.
  2. ^ a b c d Gotshall, Daniel W. Guide to Marine Invertebrates: Alaska to Baja (2nd ed.). Monterey: Sea Challengers. ISBN 0-930118-37-5.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Sept, J. Duane (2002). Beachcomber's guide to seashore life of California. Madeira Park, B.C.: Harbour Pub. ISBN 1550172514. OCLC 48579658.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sheldon, Ian (2007). Seashore of Southern California. Auburn: Lone Pine Publishing. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-55105-232-8.
  5. ^ a b c d Hinton, Sam (1987). Seashore Life of Southern California. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 105–106. ISBN 0-520-05923-9.
  6. ^ Morris, Percy A., (1966). A field guide to Pacific coast shells, including shells of Hawaii and the Gulf of California, (2d ed., rev. and enl ed.). Boston,: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0395080290. OCLC 700828.