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161. The eggs of the Murex sea snail (Chicoreus ramosus)


Like a Venetian Murano crystal chandelier; These crystal-like tubes hanging from the sealing of a rocky overhang on a shallow rocky reef in Mauritius are not a strange aquatic life form but the egg capsules of a mollusc; the Branched Murex (Chicoreus ramosus) sea snail.

The Branched Murex sea snail is a species of relative large sea snail belonging to the family Muricidae. It is a predatory snail that is found in Indo-Pacific waters. It feeds on on bivalves by drilling a hole in the shells of its prey with the aid of their proboscis. It inhabits sandy and rubble bottoms near coral reefs to a depth of approximately 10m/30ft where large individuals partially bury themselves in the substrate to hunt on bivalves who thrive in shallow sandy areas.

These beautiful marine molluscs are a popular target for collectors due to its unique shell, which is prized for its beauty and rarity. In the Southern part of India, the Murex’s meat is sold on the local markets. Its meat is sliced and then sun-dried or fried in oil and often consumed as a crisp or cracker and served with rice. In ancient times members of this mollusc family were harvested by early Mediterranean peoples, with the Phoenicians possibly the first to do so, to extract an expensive, vivid, stable dye known as Tyrian purple, imperial purple, or royal purple. A colour so rare and expensive it was only worn by emperors and kings. Untill 1856 it was the only known purple dye, when by accident the English chemist William Henry Perkin accidentally created a synthetic purple compound while attempting to synthesise quintine, an anti-malaria drug. Recognising that the compound could be used to dye fabrics, he patented the dye and manufactured it under the names aniline purple and Tyrian purple.

The females of these big molluscs (here in this clip they are hanging against the sealing of the rocky overhang and covered with reddish-brown algae) lay clusters of capsules containing between 200 and 700 eggs . These egg capsules, which are vase-shaped and measure 16 to 20mm (0.6 to 0.8inch) are clustered together in irregular rows and firmly attached to the substrate. They contain several eggs per capsule. They have a so-called “escape hatch” which is situated centrally on top of the egg capsule. Over time when these tough eggs develop, the capsules containing the eggs change in colour, going from creamy white to dark purple. Hatching of the eggs inside the capsules occurs 26 days or so after spawning. The escape hatch of the capsule triggered by a chemical, released by the larvae opens, and the small hatchlings are released into the ocean.

These capsules reminded me of a Venetian Murano chandelier. Murano is a series of small islands in the lagoon of Venice in Northern Italy on the Adriatic Sea. It is since the end of the thirteen century famous for its glassware.


Although biologically very interesting, shots like these miss suspense and action in order to keep the audience engaged. To retain the spectators’ attention we created a series of short individual and consecutive shots and limited the total length of the clip.

Filming location:

This short underwater videoclip has been filmed in Mauritius 🇲🇺

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