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Family: Neritidae

Nerites are a group of small, globe-shaped univalve molluscs that occur in tropical waters. They are gregarious, and the species live in a wide variety of habitats.

Small photo of a Black Nerite

Only one species, the Black Nerite, Nerita atramentosa, is found around southern Australian waters.

Nerites have thick shells, with a low spire and a semicircular aperture which are strongly toothed. The operculum is thick and calcareous. The various structures which surround the aperture are vary useful in identification.

Some species show great variation in markings and colouration. One species is named Nerita chamaeleon because it can be so varied.

Nerites are herbivorous molluscs and feed on algae or algal slime growing on the shore surface.

In some species there is a planktonic larval stage, while in others there is direct development.

For more information on Molluscs visit MESA Molluscs


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.

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


Black Nerite

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

Learning Consultant - Media
The University of Newcastle

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Scientific Consultant: Phil Colman
site created 01.01.98 : updated 01.04.2000