Spiny Dye Murex - Bolinus Brandaris

bolinus-brandaris-1Spiny Dye Murex (or Purple Dye Murex, Latin - Bolinus Brandaris (Murex Brandaris), German - die Herkuleskeule or das Brandhorn, Croatian - Volak or Bodljikavi Volak, Spanish - La Cañadilla, Italian - Il Murice Comune) is a medium-sized predatory sea snail in the family Muricidae, also known as the murex snails or the rock snails.

Spiny Dye Murex lives in the central and western parts of the Mediterranean Sea, East Atlantic and has been found on isolated coral atoll beaches in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea - it can be found between 2 and 100m, but most commonly between 5-15m.

It is not very picky about sea bottom - it lives on sandy or muddy beaches, between rocks and sea bed covered with various vegetation.

It's shell is usually brown in color, but due to various algae and other organisms that grow on shell, color can vary significantly. Maximum shell size of this species is between 6 and 10 cm.

Although Spiny Dye Murex was used by the ancients to produce purple fabric dye (hence Purple Dye Murex name), for recreational fishermen this and similar species are important for other reasons:

- it can be easily collected from the sea bed, often in larger quantities in some locations.

- it is quite tasty - although it's meat is little bit tougher, especially when compared with fish meat, Spiny Dye Murex has special aroma - cooked and then served with some olive oil, lemon juice and pepper. Note: be sure to eat only the 'tough' muscle (meat), throw away rest of it. If you find it very bitter, you are eating stuff you should not eat :) (been there, done that...)

- it is great bait for many species - it holds very firmly on the hook. Some fishermen just crack the shell and then insert the hook into the snail - this way, snail is still protected from smaller fish, while large fish can easily reach the soft part - with hook inside ...

There are several other very similar species, most commonly Hexaplex Trunculus (Banded Dye Murex - Murex Trunculus).