Purple Olive Snail

Scientific name:   Olivella biplicata

Authors: Cody C. and D. Young

Size:  2cm to 3.5cm (0.8 inch to 1.15inch)

Identifying features:

Purple Olive Snails are very attractive snails that have a smooth shell that appears highly polished.  The colour of the shell varies but is often a blend of grays and purples and pinks and many have longitudinal bands running down the length of the shell.  They often have dark lines at the edge of the whorls at the apex of the shell.


O. biplicata are found on sandy beaches below the high tide line from southern Alaska to northern Mexico. On Vancouver Island they are most commonly encountered by people walking along Long Beach near Tofino. They are carnivorous and plow through the sand while they are scavenging.  Though they are nocturnal they generally remain close to the surface when they burrow and some can found scavenging on the surface in the day time.  Others can be seen either by the tip of their shell or a proboscis extended above the sand.


Kozloff, E. (1993).  Seashore life of the northern Pacific coast:  An illustrated guide to Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.  Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press

Lamb, A. and Hanby,B.(2005). Marine life of the Pacific Northwest: A photographic encyclopedia of invertebrates, seaweeds and selected fishes. Medeiva Park, BC: Harbour Publishing.

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