Voluta musica The VOLUTIDAE are a large family of extremely diverse mollusks. There are approximately 43 genera and more than 200 species that vary from rather drab to extremely brilliant colored shells, many with bold patterns. The Volutidae also vary greatly in size. Some species rarely exceed an inch in length and others are among the largest known species of marine mollusks. The family inhabits world wide seas from shallow to extremely deep water. Many new species have been found as a by-product of fishing trawls and others through intense scuba diving for mollusks throughout the world. The extreme variation exhibited by a number of Volute species has given rise to an excessive number of invalid names. Fortunately, there are many excellent literature resources available to help sort out the species of Volutidae.

LITERATURE: Due to the extreme popularity of this family, Volutes are well documented in most general shell books such as Compendium of Seashells by R.T. Abbott. For a collector who wants to seriously concentrate on this family, required reading includes Volutes by Poppe and Goto (1992), the most current and comprehensive book on the subject, and its predecessor for the family, The Living Volutes by Weaver and du Pont. The latter is currently out of print, but new and used copies still circulate on the book market and can be purchased at very good prices. Another specialized Volute book worth tracking down, though long out-of-print, is Multiform Australian Volutes by Abbottsmith (1969), a spiral-bound treatise on the extreme variations found among the Australian Volutes. With continued improvement in fishing and collecting techniques, new Volute species continue to surface. The Volute specialist can keep track of those new findings in a number of the popular molluscan journals such as La Conchiglia, American Conchologist, Of Sea & Shore, and others to numerous to name here.


The illustrated Volutidae are from private, or museum collections.
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Alcithoe aillaudorum Bouchet & Poppe - New Caledonia, 46mm; a very rare species known only from this locale; trawled in extremely deep water. Alcithoe fusus Quoy & Gaimard - New Zealand, 55mm, trawled in 1500 meters of water; note the tented pattern! Quite uncommon to rare. Alcithoe lutea (Watson, 1882) - New Zealand, 105mm, trawled in 1400 meters of water off North Island; rather rare species.
Alcithoe wilsonae (Powell, 1933) variety: smithi (Powell, 1950) - New Zealand, 114mm, trawled off Otago Coast. A rare species. The anterior end is often stained with purple coloring. Amoria ellioti Sowerby - Australia, 80-83mm, intertidal dweller; some varieties exist. BV-2162Amoria grayi Ludbrook - Western Australia, 107mm; the species varies considerably throughout its geographical range; this form is from Denmark, W.A.
Athleta semirugata Rehder & Weaver - Mozambique, 51mm; uncommon taken in trawl nets of fishing boats along southwest Africa. Cymbiola aulica Sowerby - Philippines, 122mm; an extremely variable species; this specimen represents somewhat typical color and pattern. Cymbiola aulica Sowerby - Philippines, 110mm; this specimen has fine axial lines covering the entire shell.
Cymbiola aulica Sowerby - Philippines, 136mm; this specimen exhibits larger shoulder knobs and a bolder color/pattern than typical. Cymbiola aulica palawanica Doute - Philippines, 87mm; a large specimen of this rare and variable subspecies, considered by some to be distinct from C. aulica. Cymbiola aulica palawanica Doute - Philippines, 86mm; a superb specimen of this rare species; limited geographical range in Palawan; color and pattern vary considerably.
Cymbiola innexa Reeve - Indonesia, 128-139mm; this species was often called C. marispuma Angioy & Biraghi; there is considerable variation in color, pattern and even shape of the shell. Cymbiola innexa Reeve - Indonesia, 109-116mm; an uncommon chocolate-brown color form from Java. Cymbiola irvinae E.A. Smith - Australia, 95mm; trawled specimen; dead-taken as always; a spiny shouldered form; quite rare.
Cymbiola thatcheri McCoy - New Caledonia, 65mm; a rare species with a limited range in the Coral Sea. Cymbiolista hunteri Iredale - Australia, 102-105mm; a deepwater color form from the Swains Reef area of Queensland. Festilyria festiva Lamarck - Somalia, 212mm; a superb example of the species; trawled in deep water; many specimens are obtained with a thin, immature lip. This specimen is a true rarity with a thick, nature lip!
Fulgoraria kaneko Hirase - Korea, 114mm; trawled up by commercial fishing boats. Lyria africana Reeve - South Africa, 64mm; rare; taken by scuba divers. Was an ultra-rare shell until scuba divers started venturing into more remote locales along the South African coast. Note thickened paired denticles on outer lip. Lyria beauii Fischer & Bernardi [= archeri Angas] - Martinique, 33mm; uncommonly taken by scuba divers.
Lyria doutei Bouchet & Bail - Saya de Malia Bank, 71mm, dead taken; an ultra-rare species; known from only a small number of specimens, most dead-taken. BV-0241Lyria kurodai Kawamura - Vietnam, 86-87mm; shell consists of distinct ribbed sculpture; a one-time rarity, the species is more commonly fished by trawlers. Lyria patbaili Bouchet - Madagascar, 65mm; a new discovery off a remote southeast coast bay of Madagascar; this specimen represents a very darkly colored specimen, though dead-taken; rare.
BV-0238Lyria planicostata boholensis Kosuge - Philippines, 80-81mm; a distinct regional form. Lyria planicostata boholensis Kosuge - Philippines, 75mm; a classic form with encircling lines only on the ribs. Nannamoria guntheri guntheri E.A.Smith - South Australia, 51.5mm; one of the truly beautiful and eye-catching Volutes; this is the typical form with two bands; form adcocki lacks the bands.
Plicoliva zelindae (Petuch, 1979) - endemic to the Abrolhos Archipelago, Brazil; 29-30mm - two color forms are pictured; originally described as an Olive shell. Scaphella (S.) dohrni (Sowerby III, 1903) - 75mm; dredged off Cape San Blas, Florida, in 125 fathoms of water; a variable species; this is a somewhat typical form. Interestingly, the pattern on this specimen changes towards the latter part of the body whorl. Scaphella (S.) dohrni (Sowerby III, 1903) - this atypical and spectacular specimen was taken off Key West, Florida, 116mm - found from south Cuba through Key West where it has been dredged and trawled. Photo by Andrew Dickson from his collection.
Scaphella (S.) dohrni (Sowerby III, 1903), form: florida (Clench & Aguayo,1940) - Florida, 63mm - this is a form with a prominent coronated ridge on the spire. Photo by Andrew Dickson from his collection. Scaphella (Aurinia) dubia dubia (Broderip,1827), form: kieneri Clench, 1946 - Mississippi, 83mm - this specimen is typical of the form found in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Scaphella (Aurinia) dubia dubia (Broderip,1827), form: schmitti (Bartsch,1931) - southwest Florida, 125-126mm - trawled in the Gulf of Mexico somewhere between Marco Island and the Florida Keys. A number of forms exist in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo by Andrew Dickson from his collection.
Scaphella (S.) junonia (Lamarck,1804) - Yucatán, Mexico, 105mm - a population variant probably from off of the Progresso area, Yucatán. Photo by Andrew Dickson from his collection. Scaphella (S.) junonia (Lamarck,1804), form: butleri Clench,1953 - Gulf of Mexico, Yucatán, 105mm - differentiated from typical S. junonia by the shell pattern. Some pattern variation is exhibited. Photo by Andrew Dickson from his collection. Scaphella (S.) junonia (Lamarck,1804), form: johnstonae Clench,1953 - Gulf of Mexico, 137mm - a colored form similar to the classic S. j. johnstonae, probably from deep water. Photo by Andrew Dickson from his collection.
Scaphella (S.) robusta (Dall, 1889) - Gulf of Mexico south of Alabama, 111mm - an unusual locality for the species which is normally found only near the type locality off Cape San Blas, Florida. This specimen is exceptionally large with an unusual pattern of irregular, steaked rectangles. Photo by Andrew Dickson from his collection. Scaphella (S.) robusta (Dall, 1889) - 60mm; dredged off Fort Myers, Florida, in 100 fathoms of water; this small specimen clearly shows that the surface sculpture of fine encircling threads is visible even in small specimens. The pattern of irregular squares is more typical for the species. Voluta ebraea Linné - Brazil, 96-105mm; an extremely variable species. Specimens with an orange central band are exceedingly attractive. The species derives its name from the shell pattern which seemingly forms hebraic letter symbols.
Voluta ebraea Linné - Brazil, 175mm - The species can grow very large. This specimen is an example of an extremely large and well developed shell. The dark coloration is unusual. Voluta musica Linné - Colombia, 103mm; absolutely a huge size for the species; lots of blue color in this specimen; the species varies considerably throughout its range. Voluta musica carneolata Lamarck - Barbados, 51mm; a pink form best known from Barbados; no other V. musica form approaches the color of carneolata.
Voluta musica guinaica Lamarck, Venezuela, 72mm; beautiful specimen with suffuse blue highlights; limited to the waters off of northern South America. Voluta polypleura Crosse, form: hennequini Petuch, Nicaragua, 46-50mm; a controversial form that is trawled from remote fishing grounds; similar to other forms except for its terra-cotta coloring. Voluta polypleura Crosse, form: hilli Petuch, Nicaragua, 85mm; the polypleura complex varies considerably from location to location; many names have been applied to the forms.
Voluta polypleura Crosse, form: kotorai Petuch, Honduras, 78mm; a superb example of this variable species; differentiated from others in this complex by the more depressed spire and lacking the peach background coloration found in others of the polypleura group. Voluta polypleura Crosse, form: kotorai Petuch, Honduras, 58.5mm; dwarf adult, maturing at a smaller size than typical for the species. Voluta polypleura Crosse, form: sunderlandi Petuch, Honduras, 42-46mm; endemic to Utila Island, Bay Islands; the white background color is typical for the species.
Voluta virescens Lightfoot, Colombia, 102mm; this is considered a large specimen for the species; the amount of should angulation and knobs vary from shell to shell.