E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Callianax biplicata (G. B. Sowerby I, 1825)
Purple Olive
Family: Olividae
Photo of species

© Aaron Baldwin  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #7694)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Callianax biplicata in British Columbia
Details about map content are available here.


Olive shells are predatory snails related to whelks, mud snails, and tritons. There are 3 species represented on the west coast, but only Callianax biplicata is found commonly on B.C. beaches intertidally; the others are less common and tend, anyway, to live more subtidally. Olive shells C. biplicata are generally buried in the sand when the tide is out. They are nocturnally active, emerging from buried positions at dusk to search for small invertebrates to eat, or dead animal matter to scavenge. Predators include sea stars, crabs, shore birds, fishes, octopuses, and moon snails Polinices. Effects of the last are most visually obvious to a beach-walker, as shells with characteristic counter-sunk drill-holes bearing testimony to moon-snail predation are often found in abundance. Defenses of olive shells include fast crawling, burial and, sometimes, swimming. For more on predators and defenses of Callianax go to A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY.

Note Author: Tom Carefoot, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Olivella biplicata (Sowerby, 1825)
Olivella fucana T. S. Oldroyd, 1921

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-05-24 10:49:11 AM]
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