Trivia sp. (European Cowrie or Spotted Cowrie)
Cowries are something we expect to find in tropical and subtropical waters, but Lough Hyne is home to a species of cold-water cowrie that can be very surprising to an unsuspecting biologist.
The European Cowrie is found along the entire coastline of Ireland, which is their northern habitat range, and are present southward to the Mediterranean. We were thrilled to encounter Trivia during our under-rock intertidal survey of the eastern shore of Lough Hyne. We found more cowries under rocks on the south shore near the historical Renouf Lab yesterday morning.
Cowries are molluscs related to snails and have a soft body inside a beautiful rounded shell. Trivia’s shell is ribbed with pink and white stripes, and a dark-spotted mantle wraps around the edges of the shell.
When disturbed, the cowrie will pull the mantle and other soft tissues completely inside the shell.
Trivia feeds on colonial ascidians (sea squirts) which commonly populate intertidal rocks in Lough Hyne.
Source: Gibson R, Hextall B, Rogers A. 2001. Photographic Guide to the Sea & Shore Life of Britain & North-west Europe. Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK.