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Phylum Mollusca > Class Gastropoda > Family Muricidae
Reef murex
Chicoreus sp.*
Family Muricidae
updated Aug 2020

Where seen? This large but well camouflaged snail is usually found on boulders, rocks and hard surfaces as well as sandy areas near coral reefs on our Southern shores.

Features: 5-7cm long. Shell thick with rows of fronds or spikes along the length of the shell. There are usually three spikes along the siphonal canal. The shell opening is smooth, operculum is made of a horn-like material.

The following are the two commonly seen murex snails found on and near our reefs. They are difficult to tell apart for certain in the field.

Chicoreus brunneus (Burnt murex) is more squat, rhomboid in outline, with white or light pink shell opening and deep pink lips.

Chicoreus torrefactus (Firebrand murex) is more slender, more pointed at both ends (spindle-shaped) with white shell opening and yellow or orange lips.

Tanah Merah, Aug 09

Tanah Merah, Aug 09

Lazarus Island, Feb 11
What does it eat? Like other drills in the Family Muricidae, this snail can also drill through shells. They are said to feed extensively on the venus clam Gafrarium (Family Veneridae) by drilling a neat hole through the shell. We have often seen them suspiciously clasping a Bazillion snail (Batillaria zonalis).

Many snails clustered together
laying egg capsules.
Cyrene Reef, Jul 17

Egg capsules
Cyrene Reef, Jul 17

Eating a Bazillion snail?
Tanah Merah, Apr 12
Baby drills Once, many clusters of many snails were seen on Cyrene Reef apparently laying egg capsules on dead Fan clam shells and other hard surfaces.

Human uses: Elsewhere, this snail is frequently collected for food and its shell used for shellcraft. In some places, populations have been greatly reduced due to over-collection.

*Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination.
On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience of display.

Reef murex on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores


East Coast Park Big Splash, May 15
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

East Coast Park-Marina East, Jul 20
Photo shared by Vincent Choo on facebook.


Labrador, Nov 22
Photo shared by Vincent Choo on facebook.
Berlayar Creek, Feb 20
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.


Terumbu Buran, Nov 10
Photo shared by James Koh on flickr.

St John's Island, May 09
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Pulau Tekukor, Oct 12
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.


Sisters Island, Aug 09
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Kusu Island, May 09
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Pulau Jong, Aug 21
Photo shared by Vincent Choo on facebook.


Cyrene Reef, Dec 10

Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Cyrene Reef, Feb 16
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.


Pulau Semakau South, Feb 16
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

Beting Bemban Besar, Mar 20
Photo shared by Kelvin Yong on facebook.


Terumbu Bemban, Jul 11
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Terumbu Bemban, May 21
Photo shared by Vincent Choo on facebook.


Raffles Lighthouse, Nov 16
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

Pulau Senang, Aug 10

Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his flickr.


Terumbu Salu, Jan 10

Terumbu Buran, Nov 10

Links

References

  • Tan Siong Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary Checklist of The Molluscs of Singapore (pdf), Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore.
  • Tan, K. S. & L. M. Chou, 2000. A Guide to the Common Seashells of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp.
  • Gosliner, Terrence M., David W. Behrens and Gary C. Williams. 1996. Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific: Animal life from Africa to Hawaii exclusive of the vertebrates Sea Challengers. 314pp.
  • Abbott, R. Tucker, 1991. Seashells of South East Asia. Graham Brash, Singapore. 145 pp.
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