Sunday, 24 August 2008

Strange's Watering Pot

.....Humphreyia strangei

Humphreyia strangei, also known as Strange's Watering Pot, is a rather bizarre mollusk. The first time I came across one was at Lillico Beach. Giving it a quick scan I entertained all sorts of ideas ranging from a hollowed out tooth to a worm shell. I soon decided it must have been a gastropod which instead of growing in the normal coiled manner had grown straight. I was wrong again. I never would have guessed it was in fact a bivalve.

Today at Sulphur Creek myself and some companions found another two of these unusual bivalves.The one in the photo below is 62mm long. The other was a mere 14mm although it was damaged at the base so may have been a little longer.

While the name strangei comes from the surname 'Strange' it would have been even more fitting if it was derived from the adjective 'strange'. Of course, in this case it would have be named something like Humphreyia insolitus. (insolitus meaning strange or unusual).

The species belongs to the family Clavagellidae. There seems to be very little information available on this species. However from what I've read it starts off as a tiny, free moving bivalve. At sexual maturity it secretes a calcareous tube. The anterior end forms a concave disc known as the ‘watering pot’ which is cemented to the substratum after which this end can grow no further. The posterior end forms a four sided tube, roughly squarish in cross section and houses the siphons.This end continues to grow with the animal. The original bivalve becomes virtually non existent.They are believed to be suspension feeders. If anyone can offer more information or corrections to the above I'd be glad to here from you.

Strange's Watering Pot - Humphreyia strangei

  • MORTON, B. 2002b. The biology and functional morphology of Humphreyia strangei (Bivalvia: Anomalodesmata: Clavagellidae): an Australian cemented ‘watering pot’ shell. Journal of Zoology, London 258: 11–25.
  • Richmond M - 1997. Tasmanian Sea Shells Common to Other Australian States (Revised Edition) - Richmond Printers.


  1. Hi Alan,

    At first glance, I thought it must be a worm shell too. I have never seen this animal/shell before. I have come across tube shells that were round in cross section, but not four-sided.

    Any chance that they can be found in WA?

    By the way, what does the juvenile free swimming bivalve look like?

  2. As far as I am aware they are only found in the south east (N.S.W to S.A. and Tasmania)

    I've never even seen a photo of a juvenile. Apparently they are seldom seen.