A behind-the-scenes look at our volute collection

Photo Galleries | Updated 6 months ago

Two foreign baler shell specimensBaler shell specimens collected in Indonesia; species Melo aethiopica
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A foreign baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen collected in Indonesia; species Melo aethiopica
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A Western Australian baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen collected in Yampi Sound, WA; species Melo amphora
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A Western Australian baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen collected in Yampi Sound, WA; species Melo amphora
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two Western Australian baler shell specimensBaler shell specimens collected in Admiral Bay, WA; species Melo amphora
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A Western Australian baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen collected in Admiral Bay, WA; species Melo amphora
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two Western Australian baler shell specimensBaler shell specimens collected in Shark Bay, WA; genus Melo
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen; genus Melo
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two Western Australian baler shell specimensBaler shell specimens collected in Admiral Bay, WA; genus Melo
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A Western Australian baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen collected in the Dampier Archipelago, WA; species Melo amphora
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A Western Australian baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen collected in the Dampier Archipelago, WA; species Melo amphora
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen which belongs to the species Melo miltonis
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Juvenile baler shells in their storage boxJuveniles from the egg case of a Baler shell; species Melo miltonis
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Three juvenile baler shellsJuveniles from the egg case of a Baler shell; species Melo miltonis
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Internal fossil of a VoluteInternal fossil of a Volute found in sand dunes of Exmouth Gulf, WA; family Volutidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
An egg caseEgg case of a Baler shell, with some eggs still in place; genus Melo
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A baler shell specimen#1 In Australia trade and export of baler shells are regulated and requires a shell license. However, a smuggler tried to leave the country with this beautiful specimen in his luggage although he did not have the required license.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A baler shell specimen#2 This large Melo amphora specimen was seized by Australian customs in 1989 and sent to the WA Museum. Unfortunately, data about the origin is missing and this specimen cannot be used for research in marine biology.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A baler shell specimen#3 During all its life, the mollusc works to keep its shell clean, removing other marine animals which attach outside or even inside the shell. After the mollusc’s death the shell is no longer cleaned, and it may become dirty.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A baler shell specimen#4 In this case, we can note that the shell is totally clean, which means that this specimen was collected alive.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Our Curator of Molluscs holding a Baler shell specimen#5 Look at our Curator of Molluscs holding this large specimen! The name “Baler shell” was given by European settlers seeing Aboriginal people use this huge shell as a scoop to bail out their boats and canoes or to store water.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
An Australian Giant Conch and a Baler shell specimen#6 This specimen’s size is particularly impressive: the stolen baler shell is as big as the largest marine snail in the world, the Australian Giant Conch!
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A Western Australian baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen collected alive in North Mole, Fremantle, WA; species Melo miltonis
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two baler shell specimensBaler shell specimens which belong to the species Melo miltonis
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two baler shell specimensBaler shell specimens which belong to the species Melo miltonis
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen which belongs to the species Melo miltonis
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A foreign baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen collected near Singapore in 1881; species Melo melo
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen which belongs to the species Melo miltonis
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen which belongs to the species Melo miltonis
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two baler shell specimensBaler shell specimens which belong to the genus Melo
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Volute storage in mollusc collectionVolute storage in the dry store section of our mollusc collection
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Volute storage in mollusc collectionVolutes storage in the dry store section of our mollusc collection
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A Western Australian baler shell specimenBaler shell collected in the Dampier Archipelago, WA; genus Melo
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen; genus Melo
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen; genus Melo
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen; genus Melo
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A Western Australian baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen collected in Lacepedes Islands, WA; species Melo amphora
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A Western Australian baler shell specimenBaler shell specimen collected in Lacepedes Islands, WA; species Melo amphora
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
An Australian volute specimenVolute specimen collected in Queensland; species Cymbiolacca complexa
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
An Australian volute specimenVolute specimen collected in Queensland; species Cymbiolacca complexa
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two Australian volute specimensVolute specimens purchased in 1978 in Keppel Bay, QLD; species Voluta pulchra
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Three foreign volute specimensVolute specimens collected in Province of Bohol, Philippines; species Cymbiola vespertilio
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Foreign volute specimens in their storage boxVolute specimens collected in Province of Bohol, Philippines; species Cymbiola vespertilio
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Four foreign volute specimensVolute specimens collected in Province of Bohol, Philippines; species Cymbiola vespertilio
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
An Australian volute specimenVolute specimen collected in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia; species Cymbiola rutila, commonly known as Blood-Red Volute
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A foreign volute specimenVolute specimen collected in Papua New guinea; species Cymbiola rutila
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Four foreign volute specimensVolute specimens collected in Papua New guinea; species Cymbiola rutila
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A Western Australian volute specimenVolute specimen collected in Broome, WA; species Cymbiola oblita
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Several volute specimensVolute specimens seized by Australian customs in 1989; species Cymbiola oblita
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two Western Australian volute specimensVolute specimens which belong to the species Cymbiola nivosa
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A foreign volute specimenVolute specimen collected in Singapore; species Volutocorona nobilis
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A foreign volute specimenVolute specimen collected in Malaysia; species Voluta nobilis
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A foreign volute specimenVolute specimen collected in Malaysia; species Voluta nobilis
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A volute specimenVolute specimen which belongs to the species Cymbiola magnifica
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A volute specimenVolute specimen which belongs to the species Cymbiola magnifica
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
An Australian volute specimenVolute specimen collected in the north of Southport, QLD; species Cymbiola magnifica
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
An Australian volute specimenVolute specimen collected in the north of Southport, QLD; species Cymbiola magnifica
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A Western Australian volute specimenVolute specimen collected in North Western Australia; species Voluta (Cymbiola) flavicans
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A volute specimenVolute specimen which belongs to the species Voluta (Cymbiola) flavicans
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two foreign volute specimensVolute specimens which belong to the species Volutocorona imperialis
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
An Australian volute specimenVolute specimen seized by Australian customs in the Northern Territory in 1989; species Voluta bednalli
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
An Australian volute specimenVolute specimen seized by Australian customs in the Northern Territory in 1989; species Voluta bednalli
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A volute specimenDead volute stained by anoxic sediments identified as Amoria undulata
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A volute specimenDead volute stained by anoxic sediments identified as Amoria undulata
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Five volute specimensVolute specimens seized by Australian customs in 1989; species Amoria undulata
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Four Western Australian volute specimensVolute specimens collected in Broome, WA; species Amoria damoni
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A Western Australian volute specimenVolute specimens collected in North Western Australia; species Amoria ellioti
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum

The common name Volutes refers to the taxonomic family Volutidae, a family of predatory sea snails. These marine gastropod molluscs mostly occur in tropical seas, though some species inhabit the cold polar waters. Of the 200 species of volutes distributed worldwide, around 70 are known from Australia; many of those from Western Australian are endemic, found nowhere else in the world. Their glossy and large shell adorned with attractive patterns make this family very prized in shell collections. Indeed some volutes can reach over 50 centimetres and the largest shells were used as scoops by Aboriginal people to bail out their boats or store water!

Through this photos gallery of our volute collection, discover the substantial diversity in shapes and patterns of the gastropod family Volutidae.

The WA Museum would like to thank Hugh Morisson, Molluscs Honorary Research Associate, who assisted with some specimen identifications.