The Many Faces
of Vexillum (Costellaria) sanguisugum (Linnaeus, 1758)
by Bob Purtymun
The shell of Vexillum sanguisugum
(Linnaeus, 1758) is very variable, both in color and in sculpture.
I have collected this mollusk over a wide area of the Pacific
Ocean, by random fanning, tracking or crawling on the sand at
night (The shell, not me).
Entries from my dive log:
#12385 May 19, 1978. Collected
in fine silty sand with scattered coral heads. 1/2 mile northwest
of Mant Passage, Ponape Atoll. Tracking. 55 feet deep. 31.5mm
#09014 Sept. 3, 1976. Collected
crawling on muddy sand in the borrow pit at Aua, on the north
shore of Pago Pago Bay, Tutuila Island, American Samoa. At night,
15 feet deep. 37.2mm long. The coral taken from this pit left
a man-made habitat for sand shells. It was used for the foundation
of the torpedo shop built in 1942 for World War II. There are
not many areas for sand shells on Tutuila Island.
#12192 May 8, 1978. Collected
in fine, silty sand in the lagoon side of Arniel Island, Majuro
Atoll, Marshall Islands. Random fanning. 60 feet deep. 33mm
#07976 May 21, 1988. dive #4.
Collected crawling on silty sand on a dark, rainy night in Northwest
Cove on Boyan Island, Palawan, Philippines. (10-35.25N Lat X
119-07.7S Long.) 45 feet deep. 42mm long.
#07345 Dec. 7, 1983. Dive #2.
Fanned out of a fine sand pocket with scattered live and dead
coral. On the lee side of Grubb Reef, Great Barrier Reef, off
Townsville, Queensland, Australia. 80 feet deep. 42mm long.
#12873 Feb 14, 1986. Dive #2.
Fanned out of fine, silty sand on a hard coral substrate. (18-41.4S
Lat X 174-01.8W Long). Mala Island, Vava'u Group, Kingdom of
Tonga. 10 feet deep. 35 mm long.
#07952 May 21, 1988. Dive #1.
Fanned out of silty coral sand. Off Cooke's Point, Boyan Island,
Palawan, Philippines. (10- 27.4N Lat X 119-05.0E Long) 40 feet
deep. 32mm long.
#05137 May 19, 1988. Dive #5.
Large dead coral heads with clean coral sand channels. Crawling
on the sand at night. Panganaken Point, Palawan, Philippines.
(10-17.1N Lat X 118-56.3E Long) 45 feet deep. 33mm long.