Warted Egg Cowry on Mushroom Leather Coral [92K]

Once in a while when I see a huge Mushroom Leather Coral I'm lucky enough to see a beautiful Warted Egg Cowry. Notice the orange circle and slight purple coloration on the forward end of the shell (right side). Indentations on either end of the shell, where the orange (or sometimes brownish) markings are located, are probably responsible for the namesake.

The coral has two types of polyps-- large tubular polyps, and much smaller polyps in between the large polyps, as shown here behind the cowry. As the cowry advances the larger polyps retract into the fleshy coral surface or provide a meal for the cowry. The cowry's pattern of spots on the mantle blends splendidly with the leather coral's surface when the polyps are retracted. This cowry is about 1 1/2 inches in length.

Calpurnus verrucosus
Coral Identification: genus
Sarcophyton, species unknown

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