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Moon Snails, Beautiful but Yikes...

January 15, 2015

I have always found these quiet looking beauties to be so lovely and peaceful. After a hefty storm these shells are strewn about on the sandy shore. I have always loved finding them, marveling at their muted colors and admiring their interesting shapes. I decided to go online and research these Moon Snails. Wow was I surprised, like in life sometimes our findings are not what we expect. I want to share with you what was revealed about these quiet, peaceful looking shells. Firstly, looks are not everything. These are predators of the Sea! Honestly. Have you ever seen a Clam or other Bi-valve shell with a hole drilled into it? Yep, these beautiful nasties are the culprits. Here is their story.

Northern Moon Snails Lunatia heros are indigenous to the western Atlantic from the far northern shores of Labrador to as far south as the sandy shore of North Carolina. The Moon Snail is a predator that feeds voraciously on Clams, Mollusks and other Moon Snails. They are also known to prey on one another.

 

 

These Snails move slowly yet with great elegance on the sandy bottoms of the sea leaving a path of destruction and death in its wake.

They glide about on their large foot, that can protrude up to 4 times their size. When they encounter a Clam, or other Bi-valve they glide gently on top of the shell. Once in position they drill into the shell with their Radula, they then inject some juicy pre-digestive enzymes. After the drilling the Clam body is sucked out of its shell through the drilled hole and the Moon Snail goes about its business of finding another meal.

I will always love these beautiful shells but their story makes me cringe, every time.

A few other facts. When you are walking along the wrack line on a summer day and you see a rubbery, flute edged, collar shaped open ring it is the egg casements for the Moonsnail. Each collar holds about one million eggs.

Holy. Crazy. Those poor clams and other bi-valves, it is tough work staying alive in the bottom of the sea. Danger is everywhere.

 

 

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