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  1. Main_image_gold_ring__steve_smith Up to 50mm by S. Smith
  2. Inset_golg_ring2_steve_smith Gold Ring Cowrie underwater by S Smith

Gold Ring Cowrie

Monetaria annulus


  • Gold ring cowries are a marine snail (mollusc), shaped like an egg.
  • They have a cream coloured shell all over with a distinct, orange band encircling the back or upper side. 
  • Large teeth extend on the underside of the shell, giving it a mouth-like appearance.
  • Size: Up to 50mm

What to Observe

Search area for 30 minutes and record under the following categories-

  • Abundant - found easily with little searching
  • Frequent - found with minimal searching
  • Rare -  only 1 or 2 individuals found with intensive searching
  • Not found - not present during search

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

Gold ring cowries, like all marine snails (molluscs), are under increasing stress due to ocean acidification which can weaken their calcium carbonate shells and reduce body condition. This makes them more prone to disease, predation and low reproduction. Increasing water temperature as a result of climate change will likely affect their abundance and cause a southward shift in their distribution.

When To Look

Throughout the year.

Where To Look

  • Under stones and among seaweed during intertidal periods.
  • Northern Australia from Rottnest Island WA to Shellharbour NSW. Common in the tropics but rare in NSW.
  • WA, NT, QLD, NSW


Verdcourt, B. (1954). The cowries of the East African Coast (Kenya, Tanganyika, Zanzibar and Pemba). Journal of the East Africa Natural History Society 22(4) 96: 129-144, 17 pls.

Monetaria annulus (Linnaeus). WoRMS (2009). Monetaria annulus (Linnaeus). on10 October 2010



  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    Cypraea moneta (Monetaria moneta) is a similar looking cowrie which is cream in colour and can have a yellow coloured patch on its back. However, money cowries lack the distinctive golden ring of gold ring cowries. 

  1. Did You Know?

    Also found throughout indo-west Pacific region from Eastern Africa to the central Pacific Ocean.

    This species used to be used as a currency for countries in Africa and Asia. It is said that up until the 14th century these cowries could be used to pay taxes in China.