Cockscomb Oyster, Lopha cristagalli

Lopha cristagalli, also known as cockscomb oyster, is a species of marine bivalve mollusks within the family Ostreidae.

This species has a shell with the potential to reach a maximum diameter of roughly 20.5 centimeters, 10 centimeters being the most common. The coloration varies from dark to light purple and is thick, strongly ribbed, and slightly inequitable shell. The shell inside is porcelaneous, normally a purplish-brown or whitish. The margins of the valves have a distinctive zig-zag pattern. The surfaces of both of the valves have numerous small, low, and rounded protuberances. These mollusks are stationary avifaunal suspension feeders, meaning they feed by filtering the sea water to extract the nutrients.

Lopha cristagalli is widespread within the Indo-West Pacific, from east Africa, including Mauritius, the Red Sea, Madagascar, Seychelles and the Persian Gulf, to Micronesia; northwards to Japan and south to Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. It resides on coral reefs in shallow sub tidal waters depths reaching 5 to 30 meters.

Image Caption: Cockscomb Oyster, Lopha cristagalli. Credit: Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA/NMFS/OPR/Wikipedia