Conus, subclass Gastropoda (class Prosobranchia)


[CONE SHELL]The cone shell or cone snail is actually any of several marine snails of the subclass Prosobranchia (class Gastropoda) that comprise the genus Conus and family Conidae. The shell is 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 centimeters) long. Usually it is straight sided having a low spire with tapering body whorl, and narrow aperture, or opening into the first whorl in the shell. Cone shell's inject a highly poisonous paralyzing toxin by means of a dartlike mechanism near the tip; a few of the larger species have fatally stung human beings. Their usual prey is worms and mollusks and an occasional small fish. Most species are indigenous to the Indo-Pacific Basin region.

Cone SnailIn Hawai`i they may inhabit tidepools and sandy areas in shallow to deep offshore waters. Avoid them, do not handle them (even with gloves) and especially near the tip. Again, they inject a highly poisonous toxin with a dartlike mechanism near the tip, normally this is used for stunning and killing prey. Their attack may result in stinging, burning pain, numbness, even coma or cardiac arrest. Immerse in hot water. Get medical treatment immediately for serious reactions.

Malacologists Please Note: specimens of the most valuable shell in the world, the Glory-of-the-Seas Cone [Conus gloriamaris (Chemnitz, 1777.)] have not been found in Hawai`i. The fewer than 100 specimens retrieved have been found in the Philippines and Indonesia.