It glows light a gem underwater when the sun hits it. Not much more than an inch in diameter it isn't one of the bigger things you might search for on a dive. The purple-ringed topsnail (Calliostoma annulatum) is one of the brightest and most colorful snails found in coastal habitats from Forrester Island, Alaska, south to San Geronimo in Baja California.
They can be found on the bottom on rocky reefs, or up on the kelp as it reaches for the surface. They hunt hydroids, bryozoans, diatoms, copepods, kelp and detritus. And were among the first mollusk species on the Pacific Coast of North America to be given scientific names after being collected by James Cook.
While it is tempting to take one of these gems as a memento of the dive, the colors fade quickly once the animal dies, so it isn't worth killing one of them for its shell.
This photo was taken at San Miguel Island, the western-most of the Channel Islands located off the coast of California.
This photo was taken with a Canon EF100mm f/2.8 macro lens on a Canon EOS 10D in an Ikelite underwater housing. Lighting was provided by two Ikelite DS-125 Substrobes in eTTL mode. The exposure was set to 1/60 sec at f/16 and ISO 100.
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