Archerd Shell Collection > Shell Classes > Gastropoda > Janthinidae

Family: Janthinidae (Purple Sea Snails)

The purple sea snails have rather fragile, globular shells. The animal has become planktonic, making no attempt at swimming. They are widely distributed, and along with other plankton, are swept across the ocean by wind currents. Purple sea snails rather typically attach upside down to the underside of the hydrozoan, Velella --a primitive colonial coelenterate resembling the jellyfish-- where they float and feed on the hydrozoan. If not attached to hydrozoans, Janthina may also construct a buoyant raft from a tough, transparent, bubble which it secretes from its foot. Some related species in the Janthinidae family also construct rafts for towing their egg masses (Morton, 1960).
The Janthinidae family belongs to the Superfamily: Architectonicacea, which includes also the Architectonicidae, Epitoniidae, and several families consisting of small sea snails. Interestingly and despite the fact that they are in an entirely unrelated superfamily than the Muricidae, the Janthinidae secrete a similar mucus from which a blue-purple dye can be made, although there is some doubt that its composition is identical to that of the Muricidae (personal communication, A. Sinton, 2005).
Class: Gastropoda
Group: Ptenoglossa
Superfamily: Epitoneoidea
Family: Janthinidae
Major Genera
  • Genus: Janthina
  • Genus: Reclusia
Janthina_janthina.JPG (79172 bytes)
Janthina janthina (Linnaeus, 1758)
Purple Sea Snail

Archerd Shell Collection > Shell Classes > Gastropods > Purple Sea Snails