- History and Culture
Mauritia mauritiana is a species of the family of Cypraeidae, otherwise known as cowries. It is a type of egg-shaped sea snail that is smooth and shiny with a flat under surface and a long, narrow slit-like opening which is often toothed at the edges. This is one of the larger cowries and usually measures up to 10 centimeters. It is characterized by a smooth, shiny dark brown shell with yellow or amber spots. The mantle of the cowrie is black, and the aperture is curved. The species displays strong teeth and a flat, concave base with angular margins.
 Richmond, Matthew (ed.). 2011. A fieldguide to the seashores of Eastern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean islands. Sida/WIOMSA.
The species is found throughout the Indo-Pacific region. It can be found in exposed natural breakwaters such as coral reefs or basalt cliffs. It is also found in the intertidal zone from a minimum depth of 2 meters.
The Mauritius cowrie is currently not assessed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is common throughout its range. Like many sea shells it has historically been exploited for its commercial value as an ornamental object. Collection of shells is prohibited by law in the Republic of Mauritius.
Cowries are known to have been historically used as currency, particularly in Africa.
Richmond, Matthew (ed.). 2011. A fieldguide to the seashores of Eastern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean islands. Sida/WIOMSA.