Turbo marmoratus (great green turban shell)

Turbo marmoratus is commonly known as the marbled turban shell, great green turban shell, or green snail.

It is a large marine snail, with a heavy shell and a large calcareous operculum that closes like a door behind the animal when it withdraws into its shell for safety from predators or when it is disturbed. 

This gastropod lives in tropical reef flats with clear water, down to depths of approximately 20m. It is active by night and forages among the rubble for the algae and microalgae on which it feeds. 

Species detail

Turbo marmoratus has separate sexes. To reproduce, males and females release sperm and eggs into the water column where they fertilise and develop into planktonic larvae that generally settle as small, shelled juveniles within a few days.

  • The shells of Turbo species

    Find out about the taxonomy of Turbo marmoratus and how related species can be distinguished.

  • Silver-gilt turban shell cup

    Over the last century this species has been intensively fished for its attractive shell. Learn more, including what actions are being taken to replenish wild stocks.

  • Turbo marmoratus operculum

    Get information about referenced journal publications and other sources of information.

Natural distribution

Natural distriibution of Turbo marmoratus

Natural distribution of Turbo marmoratus

Turbo marmoratus is distributed throughout the tropical Indo-West Pacific. It was introduced into French Polynesia in the 1960s.


Turbo marmoratus

The shells of A Turbo marmoratus, B T. imperialis and C T. militaris 

© C Des Beechey, http://www.seashellsofnsw.org.au/Turbinidae/Pages/Turbo_militaris.htm (all others copyright NHM)
Turbo marmoratus

Opercula of A Turbo (Lunatica) marmoratus B Turbo (Lunatica) imperialis C Turbo (Lunatica) militaris

Turbo marmoratus shells with their iridescent interior showing

Turbo marmoratus shells with their iridescent interior showing

© S Williams
Silver-gilt turban shell cup

Silver-gilt turban shell cup from the Gilbert Collection, Somerset House London. Made by Jacob Frick in Konstanz, Germany circa 1590-1600. Item O157898

© V&A Images

About the author

Suzanne Williams
Dr Suzanne Williams

Researcher focused on high biodiversity in tropical oceans.

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A hard plate that serves to close the mouth when the animal is withdrawn into the shell.