Let’s meet Hexaplex trunculus – backstage of the Discovery Channel documentary

Hexaplex trunculus is the star of the day! The banded murex was the subject of a Discovery Channel documentary (Unearthed – Series 6) that was filmed in the IMBBC and CretAquarium premises during  the 6th of November 2022. The production of purple dye from this gastropod during the ancient years, as well as its general ecology and habits were the main focus of this filming.

Hexaplex trunculus is a cosmopolitan gastropod of the family Muricidae commonly found in the subtidal and intertidal zone. It is a scavenger and an active predator. In ancient years the Royal Purple dye was extracted from the hypobranchial gland of this species and was used to paint regal textiles and garments. It was said that this purple or violet colour gave to the wearer an aura of power and sacredness, therefore it was rare and valuable. It is believed that the discoverers of this purple pigment were probably the ancient Minoans in the Aegean from at least the 18th century BCE. In our days Hexaplex is a commercial edible species that can be found in the market in several countries such as Italy, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia. This species has also a high ecological interest because it has been used as an imposex indicator in TBT pollution assessment studies. Hexaplex trunculus is being currently used in the IMBBC and CretAquarium for conducting controlled experiments on how climate change and ocean acidification are affecting its shell properties, growth, reproduction and behavior.


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