Marine Education Society of Australasia Home Page

banner image for Life on Australian Seashores Website

Black Nerite Nerita atramentosa


Photo of a Black NeriteThe Black Nerite has a shell which is globe-shaped with a flat spire and a large body whorl. The shell surface is smooth or marked with fine spiral striations caused by irregular growth lines. The aperture large and semicircular. Aperture has 1-2 teeth at the side. Its Operculum is calcareous and granular outside. The operculum has a peg which catches under the columella.


Shell black, sometimes grey. White aperture and columella callus. Operculum black or grey.




Reeve, 1855




20-30 mm diameter


Distribution map of the Black NeriteThe Black Nerite is common across southern the southern shores of Australia. From southern Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia to Northwest Cape. Also occurs at Lord Howe Island, North Island New Zealand and Kermadec Island.


Occurs at mid to high tide levels on and under rocks, in crevices, and around the edges of rock pools of shores with low to moderate wave action.


Photo of Black Nerites clustered around a damp pool The Black Nerite often occurs in groups around pools that are permanently damp. Feeds by scraping algae from rocks. It is preyed upon by predatory gastropods.

Lays flat, oval-shaped, calcareous egg capsules during summer on rocks and shells (Anderson, 1962, Underwood, 1974).

After hatching, the larvae settle back on the shore about four months later as small adults.



Also known as Black Periwinkle, Crow, or Melanerita melanotragus

Bennett, I. (1987) W.J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores. p.279, Angus & Robertson, Sydney.

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.96, New Holland, Sydney.

Edgar, G.J. (1997) Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p.244, Reed Books, Kew.

Quinn, G.P., Wescott, G.C. & Synnot, R.N. (1992) Life on the Rocky Shores of South-Eastern Australia: an illustrated field guide. p.45, Victorian National Parks Association, Melbourne.

Marine Research Group of Victoria (1984) Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria: an atlas of selected species. p. 44, Museum of Victoria, Melbourne.

Macpherson, J.H. & Gabriel, C.J. (1962) Marine Molluscs of Victoria. p.85, Melbourne University Press & The National Museum of Victoria.

Shepherd, S.A. & Thomas, I.M. (1982) Marine Invertebrates of Victoria, Pt. 2. p.563, South Australian Government Printer, Adelaide.

Underwood, A.J. & Chapman, M.G. (1993) Seashores: a beachcomber's guide. p.31, New South Wales University Press, Sydney.

Wilson, B.R. & Gillett, K. (1979) A field guide to Australian Shells: Prosobranch Gastropods. p. 47, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Sydney.


Black Nerite

Home Page
Rocky Shores
Tidal Levels
Intertidal Zonation
Environmental Factors
Biological Factors
Feeding Relationships


photo of Keith DaveyLife on Australian Seashores
by Keith Davey (C) 2000

Learning Consultant - Media
The University of Newcastle

email at

Scientific Consultant: Phil Colman
site created 01.01.98 : updated 01.04.2000