Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record:
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record:
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record:

General Invasion History:

Sabia conica has a wide, presumably native distribution in the Indo-Pacific, from the Red Sea to South Africa, Japan, the Marshal Islands, Fiji and Tasmania (Carlton 1979; Simone 2002; Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2013; Atlas of Living Australia 2013; U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2013). Carlton and Eldredge (2009) consider S. conica to be cryptogenic in the Hawaiian Islands, where it was first found in the 1850s. We consider this snail to be cryptogenic in the central Pacific islands, from Samoa to the Marquesas. It was recorded in Bora Bora at least as early as 1937 (Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2013). Sabia conica has been found on two occasions in southern British Columbia, in 1940 and 1963 (Cowan 1974; Carlton 1979). It has also been found on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Israel (Zenetos et al. 2003; Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2013). This sedentary snail usually attaches to the shells of other mollusks (Carlton 1979; Simone 2002). Possible vectors include ships’ hulls and larval transport in ballast water (Cowan 1974; Carlton 1979).

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the West Coast:

In 1940, a specimen of Sabia conica (as Hipponix tumens) was found on intertidal rocks in Table Island, British Columbia, at the south end of Queen Charlotte Sound (Griffith 1967, cited by Carlton 1979). In 1963, several specimens of this snail were found attached to the shell of a living Northern Abalone (Haliotis kamschatkana) in Tasu Sound, on the west coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Cowan 1974; Carlton 1979). This area is located near a metal mine which is visited by large ships (Cowan 1974). We have found no further records of this gastropod on the temperate West Coast of North America.

Invasion History Elsewhere in the World:

There are several scattered records of Sabia conica outside the Indo-Pacific. In 1965, a specimen was collected in Bahia Cocos, near Puerto Culebra, on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica (ANSP 308718, Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2013). In the Caribbean, specimens were collected in Macuto, Venezuela in 1934 and 1935 (ANSP 265329, ANSP 341862, Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2013). One specimen was collected in Dor, Israel in 1980 (Zenetos et al. 2003). All these records may represent transport in ship fouling or ballast water, but none have led to known established populations.


Sabia conica is a small limpet-like marine snail. Its shell is thick and conical from the side, with the apex skewed to the posterior end of the shell, forming a small coil. The height of the shell is roughly half the length and the shell is oval in outline. The edge of the aperture is irregular, matching the surface to which it is attached. The shell is sculpted with broad radiating ribs and concentric growth lines. It reaches a length of 15-25 mm and ranges in color from white to brown, often with brown stains on the ribs, and brown stains around the aperture. This snail is a sedentary commensal species, often attached to the shells of other mollusks. Description from: Simone 2002 and Zenetos et al. 2003.


Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Mollusca
Class:   Gastropoda
Order:   Neotaenioglossa
Family:   Hipponicidae
Genus:   Sabia
Species:   conica


Hipponix conicus. (Schumacher, 1817)
Patella australis (Lamarck, 1819)
Amathea conica (Schumacher, 1817)
Sabella australis (Lamarck, 1819)

Potentially Misidentified Species

Antisabia panamensis
West Coast native (=H. cranioides) from Peru to British Columbia (Abbott 1974; McLean, in Carlton 2007).

Hipponix tumens
West Coast native from Baja California to Crescent City, California (Abbott 1974; McLean, in Carlton 2007).



Sabia conica is a small marine snail of sedentary habitats, which often lives attached to other molluscan shells. Like snails of the related genus Crepidula (Calyptraeidae), those of the family Hipponicidae are sequential hermaphrodites, with larvae settling and developing into males first, and then changing to female. Fertilization is internal and eggs are brooded in capsules under the shell, and hatch into planktonic larvae (Cowan 1974; Simone 2002; Zenetos et al. 2003).

Sabia conica has a very wide geographical range, including temperate (Japan and Tasmania) and tropical regions (Simone 2002; Academy of Natural Sciences 2006; Academy of Natural Sciences 2012). It occurs at 0-200 m depth on hard substrates, including rocks and other molluscan shells (Simone 2002). The three specimens found by Cowan (1974) were attached to an abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) (Carlton 1979). Sabia conica grazes on algae, using its radula to scrape surfaces (Simone 2002; McLean 2007).


General HabitatRockyNone
Salinity RangePolyhaline18-30 PSU
Salinity RangeEuhaline30-40 PSU
Tidal RangeSubtidalNone
Tidal RangeLow IntertidalNone
Vertical HabitatEpibenthicNone

Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Maximum Length (mm)24.8Simone 2002
Broad Temperature RangeNoneWarm temperate-Tropical
Broad Salinity RangeNonePolyhaline-Euhaline

General Impacts

No impacts have been reported for this species.

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
NEP-III Alaskan panhandle to N. of Puget Sound 1940 Def Failed
MED-V None 1980 Def Failed
SP-XXI None 1850 Crypto Estab
AUS-VIII None 0 Native Estab
AUS-XII None 0 Native Estab
AUS-VII None 0 Native Estab
CAR-III None 1934 Def Failed
AUS-IV None 0 Native Estab
SP-XX None 1987 Crypto Estab
EA-V None 0 Native Estab
RS-3 None 0 Native Estab
RS-2 None 0 Native Estab
RS-1 None 0 Native Estab
EAS-III None 0 Native Estab
NWP-3a None 0 Native Estab
EAS-I None 0 Native Estab
AUS-V None 0 Native Estab
SP-VIII None 1982 Crypto Estab
AUS-VI None 0 Native Estab
EA-III None 0 Native Estab
EAS-VI None 0 Native Estab
NWP-3b None 0 Native Estab
AUS-IX None 0 Native Estab
AUS-X None 0 Native Estab
AUS-XI None 0 Native Estab
AUS-XIII None 0 Native Estab
AUS-II None 0 Native Estab
AUS-I None 0 Native Estab
SP-IX None 0 Crypto Estab
AUS-III None 0 Native Estab
EAS-VII None 0 Native Estab
SEP-H None 1965 Def Unk
SP-VII None 0 Native Estab
EAS-V None 0 Native Estab
NWP-2 None 0 Native Estab
CIO-VI None 0 Native Estab
SP-XII None 0 Native Estab
SP-XVIII None 0 Crypto Estab
SP-IV None 0 Native Estab
SP-XIII None 0 Native Estab
SP-II None 0 Native Estab
SP-I None 0 Native Estab
EAS-IV None 0 Native Estab
SP-XVI None 0 Crypto Estab
WA-V None 0 Native Estab
CIO-II None 0 Native Estab
SP-VII None 0 Native Estab
NZ-I None 0 Native Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude


Abbott, R. Tucker (1974) American Seashells, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York. Pp. <missing location>

Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2002-2024a Malacology Collection Search. <missing URL>

Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2006-2014b OBIS Indo-Pacific Molluscan Database. <missing URL>

Appeltans, W. et al. 2011-2015 World Registry of Marine Species. <missing URL>

Atlas of Living Australia 2013-2016 Atlas of Living Australia. <missing URL>

Carlton, James T. (1979) History, biogeography, and ecology of the introduced marine and estuarine invertebrates of the Pacific Coast of North America., Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Davis. Pp. 1-904

Carlton, James T. (Ed.) (2007) The Light and Smith Manual: Intertidal Invertebrates from Central California to Oregon Fourth Edition, Completely Revised and Expanded, University of California Press, Berkeley. Pp. <missing location>

Carlton, James T.; Eldredge, Lucius (2009) Marine bioinvasions of Hawaii: The introduced and cryptogenic marine and estuarine animals and plants of the Hawaiian archipelago., Bishop Museum Bulletin in Cultural and Environmental Studies 4: 1-202

Cowan, I. McTaggart (1974) Sabia conica on the Pacific Coast of North America, Veliger 16(3): 290

Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology 2008-2021 Museum of Comparative Zoology Collections database- Malacology Collection. <missing URL>

Kil, Hyun Jong; Yoon, Sook Hee; Kim, Won; Choe, Byung Lae; Sohn, Hyun Joon; Park, Joong-Kee (2005) Faunistic investigation for marine mollusks in Jindo Island., Korean Journal of Systematic Zoology Special Issue 5: 29-46

McLean, James A. (2007) The Light and Smith Manual: Intertidal Invertebrates from Central California to Oregon, University of California Press, Berkeley CA. Pp. 713-1766

Simone, Luiz Ricardo L. (2002) Comparative morphological study and phylogeny of representatives of the superfamily Calyptraeoidea (including Hipponicoidea) (Mollusca, Caenogastropoda), Biota Neotropica <missing volume>: 1-137

Spurgeon, Andrew 2007-2013 New Zealand Mollusca. <missing URL>

Tan, Siong Kiat; Woo, Henrietta P. M. (2010) <missing title>, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Singapore. Pp. <missing location>

U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2002-2021 Invertebrate Zoology Collections Database.

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History 2008-2016 YPM Invertebrate Zoology - Online Catalog. <missing URL>