Nassarius vibex

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Geographic Range

Nassarius vibex, commonly known as the Common Eastern Nassa, can be found from Cape Cod to Florida, the Gulf States, and the West Indies. This Nassarius species can also be found in Brazil. Even though the Common Eastern Nassa is widely dispersed, it spends most of its time either in Florida or in the Caribbean. (Warmke and Abbott 1962; "Livestock" 4/28/01; "NASSARIIDAE" 4/10/01; "Nassarius vibex" 4/19/01; "An Alternative to Hermit Crabs!" 4/19/01)

Habitat

Nassarius vibex is most commonly found living in the intertidal sand flats or in mud flats. This species can also be found living in very shallow waters and in creek banks. Most of the time, Nassarius vibex is buried under the sand or the mud. Because of where the Common Eastern Nassa lives, it lives at normal reef temperatures and conditions. (Warmke and Abbott 1962; June 9, 1997. "List of common Georgia seashells by habitat"; "Nassarius vibex" 4/19/01; "Flats - The Unvegetated Intertidal" 4/19/01; "Nassarius vibex" 4/19/01; "An Alternative to Hermit Crabs!" 4/19/01)

Physical Description

The Common Eastern Nassa can be anywhere from 10mm to 1 cm long, when the Nassa is an adult. The shell that is its home has a pointed "cone-shaped" spiral. The shell can be white to yellow to light or dark brown. Usually, there are either ridges or bumps on the shell as well. The shells are distinguished by a groove in the front, lower part of the shell. There can be varied colorations of the shell. Some people may think that two Common Eastern Nassas are actuallly different species because of the different colorations, when in fact, it is the same species. Some dark color bands may also be visible on the shells. Scientists believe that Nassarius vibex has twelve longitudinal ribs that are crossed with finer revolving threads. Also, this Nassa has the ability to extend its mouth so it is almost as long as the length of its body. When this occurs, it looks like an elephant's trunk. From research, scientists have determined that Nassarius vibex can live for several years. (Warmke and Abbott 1962; "Livestock" 4/28/01; Mann, Roger and Juliana Harding April 17, 2001; "Nassarius vibex" 4/19/01; "NASSARIIDAE" April 10, 2001; "An Alternative to Hermit Crabs!" 4/19/01)

Reproduction

No information was found concerning the reproductive methods or habits of the Common Eastern Nassa.

Behavior

No information was found that concerned the behaviors of the Common Eastern Nassa.

Food Habits

The diet of the Common Eastern Nassa consists mainly of carrion and some eggs of certain sand-dwelling polychaetes. The Nassa comes out of the sand to eat the carrion and, most of the time, it must move up-current to eat. Scientists and researchers are not sure if they are obligate carrion-feeders. Obligate carrion-feeders are those animals that will not harm most or all other animals in the systen in which they are living. ("Livestock" 4/28/01; "An Alternative to Hermit Crabs!" 4/19/01)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

No information was found that showed that the Common Eastern Nassa has any detrimental or beneficial aspects for the human population.

Conservation Status

Other Comments

Interestingly enough, people are starting to have the Common Eastern Nassa as pets. They are using these animals as alternates to having a hermit crab. Also, Nassas are the only members of the whelk family that are not predatory. ("Livestock" 4/28/01; "An Alternative to Hermit Crabs!" 4/19/01)

Contributors

Megan Portner (author), Western Maryland College, Louise a. Paquin (editor), Western Maryland College.

Glossary

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

ectothermic

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

References

"An Alternative to Hermit Crabs!" (On-line). Accessed April 19, 2001 at http://sea-critters.com/HermitCrabs.htm.

"Flats - The Unvegetated Intertidal" (On-line). Accessed April 19, 2001 at http://www.csc.noaa.gov/otter/htmls/ecosys/ecology/tabei_9.htm.

June 9, 1997. "List of common Georgia seashells by habitat" (On-line). Accessed April 19, 2001 at http://museum.nhm.uga.edu/comets/shellSB/seashellGAhabitat.html.

April 28, 2001. "Livestock" (On-line). Accessed April 30, 2001 at http://www.wizard.net/~nemo/livestoc1.htm.

April 10, 2001. "NASSARIIDAE" (On-line). Accessed April 19, 2001 at http://www.femorale.com.br/shells/resposta.asp?family=NASSARIIDAE.

"Nassarius vibex" (On-line). Accessed April 19, 2001 at http://www.bio.swt.edu/Lavalli/guides/nassariusvib.htm.

"Nassarius vibex" (On-line). Accessed April 19, 2001 at http://www.bigai.ne.jp/pic_book/data12/r001171.html.

"Nassarius vibex" (On-line). Accessed April 19, 2001 at http://park.org/Guests/Shells/Shell_Catalogue/Shell_Pages/V/Shell_Nassarius_vibex.html.

Mann, R., J. Harding. April 17, 2001. "Mottled Dog Whelk (Nassarius vibex)" (On-line). Accessed April 19, 2001 at http://www.vims.edu/fish/oyreef/mdw.html.

Warmke, G., R. Abbott. 1962. Caribbean Seashells. Narberth, Pennslyvania: Livingston Publishing Company.