Violet Sea Snail: Family Epitoniidae

Violet Sea Snail
Janthina janthina (Linnaeus, 1758)
Family Epitoniidae

The Violet Sea Snail is rare on S. Hutchinson Island beaches.

Violet Sea Snail (S. Hutchinson Island February 2021)

The violet color is apparant on the underside:


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Janthina janthina
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A live Janthina janthina (with bubble raft) that has been swept up onto a beach in Maui, Hawaii. This is the normal view from above: the spire of the shell is held pointing down like this when the animal is floating on the surface of the ocean water.

Scientific classification
Kingdom:     Animalia
Phylum:     Mollusca
Class:     Gastropoda
Subclass:     Caenogastropoda
Superfamily:     Epitonioidea
Family:     Epitoniidae
Genus:     Janthina
Species:     J. janthina
Binomial name
Janthina janthina
(Linnaeus, 1758)

    Helix janthina Linnaeus, 1758
    Janthina affinis Reeve, 1858
    Janthina africana Reeve, 1858
    Janthina alba Anton, 1838
    Janthina balteata Reeve, 1858
    Janthina bicolor Menke, 1828
    Janthina bicolor var. major Monterosato, 1878
    Janthina bicolor var. minor Monterosato, 1878
    Janthina britannica Forbes & Hanley, 1853
    Janthina carpenteri Mørch, 1860
    Janthina carpenteri var. contorta Tryon, 1887
    Janthina casta Reeve, 1858
    Janthina coeruleata Reeve, 1858
    Janthina communis Lamarck, 1799
    Janthina costae Mørch, 1860
    Janthina depressa Reeve, 1858
    Janthina fibula Reeve, 1858
    Janthina fragilis Lamarck, 1799 (junior synonym)
    Janthina fragilis var. spiraelata Mørch, 1860
    Janthina grandis Reeve, 1858
    Janthina involuta Reeve, 1858
    Janthina orbignyi Mørch, 1860
    Janthina penicephela Peron, 1824
    Janthina planispirata Adams & Reeve, 1848
    Janthina roseala Reeve, 1858
    Janthina rotundata Dillwyn, 1840
    Janthina smithiae Reeve, 1858
    Janthina striulata Carpenter, 1857
    Janthina striulata var. contorta Carpenter, 1857
    Janthina trochoidea Reeve, 1858
    Janthina violacea Bolten, 1798
    Janthina vulgaris Gray, 1847

Janthina janthina, common name the violet sea-snail or common violet snail, is a species of holoplanktonic sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Epitoniidae, the violet snails or purple storm snails. [2]
Image of Janthina Janthina, also known as the Violet Sea-Snail, in Manchester Museum

    1 Distribution
    2 Habitat
    3 Description
    4 References
    5 External links


This species is found worldwide in the warm waters of tropical and temperate seas, floating at the surface.[3] More specifically, this species is located in the tropical and subtropical Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.[4] This information was obtained through an academic study of the differences between the different species within this genus. They are often found in large groups and sometimes become stranded on beaches when they are blown ashore by strong winds.[3] These snails are a unique part of the pleuston, organisms living on or at the very surface of the water, because of their relatively large size. They have veliger or free swimming larvae, but the adults do not swim and cannot create their rafts except at the surface where air bubbles are available.[5]

These snails are pelagic, drifting on the surface of the ocean, where they feed upon pelagic hydrozoans, especially the by-the-wind sailor Velella velella and the Portuguese man o' war Physalia physalis.

J. janthina is a member of the family Janthinidae, snails that trap air bubbles with a layer of clear chitin to maintain their positions at the surface of the ocean where they are predators on hydrozoans.[6] In addition to the bubble raft, only the veliger, or larval stage, has an operculum, and the shell is paper-thin to allow the animal to float upside down at the surface.[3][7]
Five views of a shell of Janthina janthina

The snail's shell is reverse countershaded, because of its upside-down position in the water column. There is a light purple shade on the spire of the shell, and a darker purple on the ventral side.[7] The animal has a large head on a very flexible neck. The eyes are small and are situated at the base of its tentacles.

The snail begins life as a male and later changes to the female of the species. The eggs are held by the female until they develop into a larval form.[3]

The shell is almost smooth with a slightly depressed-globose shape.[6] It is thin and delicate, and is without an operculum.[3] The colour of the shell is violet, with a paler upper surface. The height of the species shell is up to 38 mm, the width to 40 mm.[6]

Gofas, S. (2009). Janthina janthina (Linnaeus, 1758). In: Bouchet, P.; Gofas, S.; Rosenberg, G. (2009) World Marine Mollusca database. Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at on 2010-05-16
MolluscaBase (2019). MolluscaBase. Janthina janthina (Linnaeus, 1758). Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at: on 2019-10-09
Morrison, Sue; Storrie, Ann (1999). Wonders of Western Waters: The Marine Life of South-Western Australia. CALM. p. 68. ISBN 0-7309-6894-4.
Churchill, Celia; Valdes, Angel; Foighil, Diarmaid (2014). "Molecular and Morphological Systematics of Neustonic Nudibranchs (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Glaucidae: Glaucus), with Descriptions of Three New Cryptic Species". p. 174.
Lalli, Carol M.; Ronald W. Gilmer (1989). Pelagic Snails: The Biology of Holoplanktonic Gastropod Mollusks. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-1490-7.
Powell A. W. B., New Zealand Mollusca, William Collins Publishers Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand 1979 ISBN 0-00-216906-1.

    Rothschild, Susan B.; Nick Fotheringham (2004). Beachcomber's Guide to Gulf Coast Marine Life: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58979-061-2.

External links

    Species Spotlight: Janthina janthina - Bermuda Department of Conservation Services

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