money cowry

Cypraea moneta

Cypraea moneta, commonly known as the money cowry, is a species of small sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Cypraeidae, the cowries.


This is a very common species which is found in Indo-Pacific tropical waters.


This cowry lives in intertidal rocky areas. It can be found on and under rocks in shallow water and on exposed reefs at low tide. Like all cowries, it feeds on algae and marine vegetation growing on loose rocks and pieces of dead coral.

Shell description

The shell is small (20 to 40 mm long). It is white to straw-colored, and sometimes has a gold-colored ring around the dorsal area similar to the gold ring found on the shell of Cypraea annulus (gold ringed cowry).

Human use

Shells of this cowry were commonly used as a medium of exchange in many tropical areas of Africa, Asia and the Pacific islands until the late 19th century.

The shell continues to be popular today in jewelry and for decoration of such items as baskets and wall hangings.

External links

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