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Phylum Mollusca > Class Gastropoda > Family Volutidae
Noble volute
Cymbiola nobilis
Family Volutidae
updated Oct 2016
if you learn only 3 things about it ...
It is among the large snails you might see on our shores.
It is carnivorous. Its prey include smaller snails living beneath the sand!
Many volutes are threatened by over-collection as food and for their shells.

Where seen? This large, beautifully marked snail is sometimes encountered on sandy areas near seagrasses and coral rubble on some of our shores. It is more commonly seen moving above the surface at night, and is usually buried during the day. According to the Singapore Red Data Book, this beautiful snail is restricted to our part of the world, in particular, Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia. Empty shells of dead noble volutes are quickly taken over by large hermit crabs.

Features: 12-20cm. Thick heavy shell orange, yellow or beige with red or brown zig-zag patterns. Sometimes all black. A wide variety of patterns can be seen, although in some, the pattern may be obscured by encrusting growths. The fleshy body is black with bright orange or yellow spots. It has a long siphon that sticks out above the sand when the animal is buried.

Baby nobles:
Mama noble volutes lay large egg capsules. Each capsule about 10cm long, oval with angular bumps, semi-transparent white to beige or yellowish. The capsules are usually stacked up to form a cylindrical, generally oval shape and the entire assembly attached to a hard, embedded object such as coral rubble.

Human uses: Unfortunately, this beautiful and special animal is collected for food and its attractive shell.

Status and threats: The Noble volute is listed as 'Vulnerable' on the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore due to habitat loss. It was previously abundant in Singapore but is now considered vulnerable due to habitat degradation and overcollection for food and for its attractive shell. Like other creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution. Over-collection can also have an impact on local populations.

Chek Jawa, Jun 05


Burrowing with siphon sticking out

Eating a clam
Changi, May 14
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.

Baby volute!
Pulau Semakau, Mar 08
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her flickr.

Laying eggs
Pulau Semakau, Mar 07

Noble volute hunting down a Big brown mactra clam that escaped.
Pulau Semakau, Mar 08

With long crack along its shell.
Pulau Sekudu, Jan 06

Noble volutes on Singapore shores

Photos of Noble volutes for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map

Changi, May 16
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.

Terumbu Pempang Tengah, Mar 16
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.

Terumbu Pempang Tengah, May 11
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Terumbu Raya, May 10
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his flickr.

Beting Bemban Besar, May 10
Photo shared by Neo Mei Lin on her blog.

Terumbu Semakau, Dec 15
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

Pulau Sudong, Dec 09

Pulau Pawai, Dec 09
Photo shared by James Koh on his flickr.

Filmed on 8 Feb 09 at Pulau Semakau.

noble volute @ semakau 08Feb2009 from SgBeachBum on Vimeo.

Filmed at Chek Jawa in Sep 10

by Neo Mei Lin

noble volute @ terumbu semakau from SgBeachBum on Vimeo.



  • Tan Siong Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary Checklist of The Molluscs of Singapore (pdf), Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, 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.
  • Davison, G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore). 285 pp.
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