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 long.
  • #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 long.
  • #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.