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Aplustrum amplustre
(Linnaeus, 1758)
 
Aplustrum amplustre
Maximum size:  50 mm (extrapolated from shell length); most smaller.

Identification:  This species is easily recognized by its thin, strongly inflated shell marked with broad flesh-colored bands outlined in black. The animal is translucent cream. (Note 1)

Natural history:  Aplustrum amplustre is a moderately common species in mixed habitats at protected to moderately exposed sites. The animals are nocturnal, burying themselves in sand during the day (often under cobbles). It's commonly found from the low intertidal to depths of 1-2 m (3-6 ft). Rarely, it may be found to 8 m (25 ft). It feeds on polychaete worms of the family Cirratulidae (Rudman, 1972) and derives defensive toxins from it's prey (Gosliner, 2018). It lays a convoluted, cream egg mass attached by a mucous thread. The eggs hatch in about eight days in the laboratory (Daniel Jennings-Kam, pers. com.).

Distribution:  Big Island, Maui, Kahoolawi, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai and French Frigate Shoals (also Johnston Atoll): widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific.

Taxonomic notes:  It is referred to as the "swollen bubble shell" in Hoover, 1998 & 2006. The live photo in Severns, 2011 was flipped, reversing the apparent direction of coiling. It was probably first reported from Hawaii in Eydoux & Souleyet, 1852 (as Bulla aplustra). It's listed as Hydatina amplustre in Hoover (1998 & 2006), Kay (1979), Kay & Schoenberg-Dole (1991), Tinker (1952), Boom (1972), Severns (2011), Morris (1966) and Severns (2000).

Photo:  CP: Hekili Point, Maui; Nov. 5, 2002.

Observations and comments:

Note 1:  Shells of this species show strong red fluorescence under ultraviolet light (395 nM). However, it's confined to the pink bands.
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