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Common Purple Snail

Janthina janthina


A small blue snail with a firm bubble-like body. It was flushed up on the beach and seemed to be alive.


Beach of Indian Ocean


The violet snail is a marine gastropod that spends its whole life drifting on the ocean surface in warm seas, floating on a bubble raft of its own making. It feeds on jellyfish, such as the By-the-wind-sailor, Velalla velalla, or the Portuguese man-o-war, Physalia physalis. It starts life as a male and becomes female over time. The violet snail, Janthina janthina, also known as the violet shell snail and purple bubble raft snail, is holopelagic, meaning it spends its entire life cycle on the open sea. It secrets mucus from its foot which binds bubbles together in a raft, on which it floats freely on the ocean, in equatorial and temperate waters. Its shell is 3-4 cm in size, light and fragile, and is a dark purple at the widest part, fading to a light purple at the narrow top. Its body ranges from dark purple to black. Violet snails are protandric hermaphrodites, meaning they are born male and develop into females over time. Fertilization is internal, but males lack a penis, so there is no direct mating. Instead, the males release their sperm into a case that drifts to a female, where the sperm fertilizes the eggs. The eggs develop internally and are born live, with the tiny purple snails immediately able to build their own rafts. They use their feet to agitate the water, creating bubbles, which they bind together with mucus. If the bubble raft ever breaks apart, the snail will sink into the ocean and die. Violet snails are preyed upon by fish, birds, sea turtles, other molluscs and nudibranchs. The snails sometimes have pelagic barnacles attached to their shell as hitchhikers. Taxonomically, violet snails are classified as Phylum Mollusca, Class Gastropoda, Order Neotaenioglossa, Family Janthinidae, Genus Janthina, Species Janthina janthina.

1 Species ID Suggestions

Kiloueka 10 years ago
Common Purple Snail
Janthina janthina Janthina janthina

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47 Comments (1–25)

Tiz 10 years ago

Thank you Gilma :) And it is always nice when someone finds the information useful and I love to learn about the specimens I find... This is as close as I will ever come to be a "private investigator" haha!

Tiz 10 years ago

Aha, I did not know you were from SA :) Lucky you, you have such beautiful nature there all year round...

staccyh 10 years ago

No I was speaking about when I'm at home is SA :)

What a beautiful creature!! And thank you for the information, Tiz.

Tiz 10 years ago

Thank you Staccyh! Do you see them up in UK or down in SA? They are odd :)

Thank you Arya for your comment :)

Arya 10 years ago

Tiz, this is another example of nature's ability to amaze! Nice shot

staccyh 10 years ago

Nice photos Tiz! Great info as well.. I always see these on the beach and now I know a bit more about them :)

Tiz 10 years ago

Thank you Reza :D

Reza Hashemizadeh
Reza Hashemizadeh 10 years ago

Congratulations !

Tiz 10 years ago

Again, a huge thanks to all of you who commented on this spotting. I wish you all a great day!

LuisStevens 10 years ago

Congrats Tiz on your amazing SOTD!

LeanneGardner 10 years ago

What a fascinating little creature & so beautiful too. Congratulations Tiz on your SOTD :)

mendes.madalena 10 years ago

i'm a shell collector so this SOTD makes me very happy :D congrats Tiz, well earned!

Carol Snow Milne
Carol Snow Milne 10 years ago

This is very unique. Lovely blue. Lovely series. Congratulations on your recognition of SOTD!!!

Fanie 10 years ago

Nice one Tina :-)

Adarsha B S
Adarsha B S 10 years ago

Congratulations Tina ! What a spectacular spotting you are sharing with this..And very nice information too:) Am very happy for you :)

:)) You are welcome Tiz.

The MnMs
The MnMs 10 years ago

You have a very beautiful collection of spottings and we are glad that you are sharing what you see with us here in Project Noah :-)

Tiz 10 years ago

A humble thanks to all of you that commented on this spotting. I have to admit that all the greetings are a bit overwhelming :) but it also motivates me to continue to contribute and love the world that we all contribute to! A am a fan of all of you who contributes to the existence of this community!

outsidegirl0 10 years ago


Maria dB
Maria dB 10 years ago

Congratulations on your SOTD - very interesting!

Sckel 10 years ago

Congratulations Tina. Loved this snail. I learned something new. Maybe people in Mozambique and other locations of your spottigns in Africa, may not have a camera, record the fauna and participate in Noah. So as many people in PN, you're doing a good job. Love all your spottings. From her fan. :)

CONGRATULATIONS TIZ on SOTD! And thanks for the wonderful information.

RiekoS 10 years ago

Congratulations! It is truly beautiful.

AgnesAdiqueTalavera 10 years ago

Congrats, Tina! :)

Spotted by

Inhambane, Mozambique

Spotted on Aug 11, 2013
Submitted on Aug 12, 2013

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