Melanella alba

(da Costa, 1778)

Description (shell);
Shell a tall, narrow, highly polished cone; whorls very slightly tumid, profile slightly cyrtoconoid, spire sometimes a little curved. Smooth, with very fine growth lines (seen in reflected light) and varices. Protoconch often lost, leaving 12-14 whorls. Aperture pear-shaped, outer lip shows marked peripheral bulge in side-view; inner lip slightly flared at base.

Up to 20 x 6 mm.

Milky white, body colours showing through shell in life.

The head forms a flat projection bearing two tentacles anteriorly and the opening of an introvert ventrally. The tentacles are narrow, their bases approximated, with an eye behind each. There is no pallial tentacle. Males have a curved penis attached beside the right tentacle, with an open seminal groove along its length. The foot is rather small. The body is mainly white, but the tentacles, the front of the foot, its sides and the opercular lobes all bear orange markings.

On muddy sand and gravel from 16-135 m, possibly associated with holothurians.

Distributed from Mediterranean to Norway (Distr. M. alba).