𝗠𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝘄𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘀, 𝗮 𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘀𝗼𝗰𝗲𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗰 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗴𝗲!
Money cowries are tropical sea snails (Monetaria moneta). They have delicate lace-like bodies that are protected by a smooth, hard shell (or ‘exoskeleton’).
The material this shell is made of is strong and bright, almost gem-like. As their common name – ‘money cowries’ – tells us, for thousands of years people across the globe used them as a kind of currency.
Many money cowries came from the Maldives, which had a vibrant cowrie industry. This industry was a rare example of a sustainable reef fishery. It didn’t end due to over-fishing, but rather to changes in economic dynamics.
📸 A live money cowrie (Monetaria moneta) in Réunion island lagoon photographed by Philippe Bourjon (2015). Source: Wikimedia Commons. License: Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0.