Endangered Shells

Triton Trumpet Shell

Scientific Name: Charonia tritonis Fijian Name: ‘Davui’

The Triton Trumpet Snail is now a rare find in the Pacific, most often found at moderate depths of 5—20 meters and deeper in coral rich habitats. This snail has an important role in the reef community. It is an active predator on coral eating sea stars like the Crown of Thorns Starfish and cushion stars. After locating its prey, the trumpet snail immobilises the seastar with an injection of paralytic salivary juices, and then bores through the sea star’s mesh like skeleton with sturdy radular teeth to reach the soft tissue inside.



Like other snails, the Triton trumpet snail has:

  1. well-developed head with eyes and tentacles, a mouth on a protrusible proboscis (mouth tube);
  2. broad muscular foot for crawling; and
  3. soft body mass (containing the internal organs) which is protected by their shell.

Sexes are separate in the trumpet snails and fertilisation is internal. The female lays a cluster of white, club-shaped capsules containing the developing snail embryos. The young hatch from the capsules as swimming veliger larvae and enter the plankton to drift in the open water.

Traditionally, Fijians use the shells as ceremonial trumpets by making a hole in the side of the shell. Similar traditional uses of this snail shell are reported throughout the islands of the Pacific, Indonesia, and Indian Ocean.

Because of the beauty and size of its shell, the Triton trumpet snail has been sought after by shell collectors and is now rare in Fijian waters as well as elsewhere in the Pacific. This species is protected by law in some countries including Australia and the Seychelles.

Golden Cowrie

Scientific Name Cypraea aurantium Fijian name: *bulikula’

Golden CowrieThe Golden cowrie is a gastropod with a beautiful deep gold colour. This is a species of concern as it is at danger of being over harvested for ornamental purposes by visiting tourists.

Lamp/Helmet Shell

Scientific Name Carciss cornuta Fijian name: ‘davui dabe’

Lamp/Helmet ShellThe Helmet shell is a favorite tourist item. Like the trumpet shell, uncontrolled collection has led to severe depletion of existing wild populations. The gathering, taking, collecting, selling, transporting or possessing for sale of the trumpet shell and the helmet shell is prohibited.








Our new Kids section is online and alive at https://kids.mesfiji.org/ Check it out to find out more.


What Next?