Cease! That’s not rubbish! Moonsnail eggs

Cease! That’s not rubbish! Moonsnail eggs

This weblog is so overdue. Over a yr in the past, a social media put up I made about moonsnails went viral. That’s how many individuals valued studying that these egg collars are NOT rubbish.

Beneath, I present the picture and textual content from that viral put up however . . . this weblog grew into a lot extra. Learn on, I actually consider you can be moved by the marvel of moonsnails.

Textual content supplied with the above picture: “Oh oh. With latest low tides it has surfaced once more that (principally) well-intentioned individuals are shifting or “cleansing up” moonsnail egg collars. These aren’t rubbish. They’re wondrous constructions to accommodate and shield moonsnail embryos (of a number of moonsnail species on our coast).

Element: The feminine moonsnail types one layer of the collar by gluing collectively sand grains with mucus; then the fertilized eggs are laid on this layer and THEN she seals them in with one other layer of sand and mucus!

The feminine types the collar beneath the sand after which forces it above the sand when achieved. The hundreds of eggs develop within the the sand-mucus matrix. The method of creating the egg collar takes 10 to 14 hours and reportedly begins in the beginning of a flood tide.

So long as circumstances are good, the egg collars discovered on seashores are prone to have embryos creating inside them (if they’re nonetheless rubbery and moist). When the egg collar is unbroken as you seen within the pictures above, the younger have NOT hatched out. The collar disintegrates when the larvae hatch.

The larvae are plankton for 4 to five weeks after which settle to the ocean backside to develop additional. There may be contradictory data on how lengthy it takes the eggs to hatch (one dependable supply relays about 1 week whereas one other stories as much as 1.5 months). The moonsnail species within the picture above is the Northern Moonsnail whose shell will be as much as 14 cm large (Neverita lewisii is also called Lewis’ Moonsnail). Pictures taken in British Columbia, Canada however there are moonsnail species, and their collars, off so many coasts.”

What has catalyzed my lastly additionally including this content material to my weblog is that Mickie Donley shared her video with me exhibiting a feminine Northern Moonsnail pushing her eggs to the floor.

You could be questioning how a snail THAT large can match into their shell. By way of the fast uptake of seawater, the foot of can inflate as much as 4 occasions the scale of what it’s when within the shell The water is expelled when moonsnails squeeze again into their shells. They want such a giant foot to dig for his or her clam prey AND for females to assemble their egg collars under the sand.

The Northern Moonsnail is the most important moonsnail species to 14 cm lengthy (Neverita lewisii). Males are smaller. Species reported to reside to fifteen yrs. It’s the most typical moonsnail species off the coast of British Columbia.

With the entry to the shell having to be large, in fact moonsnails want an “operculum”, a door-like construction that seals off the opening to the shell. See my “Shut the door” weblog on opercula at this hyperlink.

A Northern Moonsnail’s operculum – the construction hooked up to the underside of the animal’s foot in order that when it retreats into its shell, the opening is sealed.
The construction indicated with the arrow is the moonsnail’s incurrent siphon, which attracts recent, oxygen-rich water in and over the moonsnail’s gills for respiration. The siphon will not be associated or linked to the water system within the foot.

Who drilled these holes? Moonsnails!

Whereas some whelk species additionally drill holes into their prey with their radula (tough tongue-like construction), when moonsnail species drill holes into their prey, there may be the sunken / bevelled edge you see right here. Discover too how the opening is nearly at all times close to the “umbo” of their prey’s shell (highest half). That’s additionally a clue that the predator was a moonsnail species, not a whelk species. See backside of my weblog at this hyperlink for extra data on the radula.

From Washington State’s Division of Ecology: “The common moonsnail takedown lasting 4 days because it drills ½ mm per day. As a way to pace issues up a bit, the moon snail produces hydrochloric acid and different enzymes to assist dissolve the shell and liquefy the clam’s insides . . . As soon as a superbly rounded gap is made within the shell, the moon snail inserts its tubular, straw-like mouth and slurps up the “clam smoothie” inside. It could actually take one other day or so for the moon snail to ingest the clam innards. Discuss delayed gratification!”

Notice that I’ve discovered moonsnail shells with holes drilled into them from . . . . a moonsnail.

Who goes there?
I consider the tracks in my picture under are from Northern Moonsnails.

Moonsnails clearly must reside in sandy habitats. It’s the place their prey reside they usually additionally want the sand to make their egg collars.

Discover the mucus trails behind the Northern Moonsnails within the pictures under. Whereas I’ve discovered no analysis to assist this, I’m wondering if the the mucus could have a chemosensory position in order that people could extra simply discover each other for mating.

Different moonsnail species?

There are 5 species of moonsnail that vary from Alaska to southern California or northern Mexico.

  1. Northern Moonsnail as proven in all the photographs above. Neverita lewisii is the most important moonsnail species on the planet (largest member of the Naticidae household).
  2. Aleutian Moonsnail – Cryptonatica aleutica to six cm throughout.
  3. Arctic Moonsnail – Cryptonatica affinis to 2.5 cm throughout.
  4. Pale Arctic Moonsnail – Euspira pallida to 4 cm acrross.
  5. Drake’s Moonsnail – Glossaulax draconis to 9 cm throughout and extra widespread in California.
    Notice that it’s acceptable to make use of “moon snail” and “moonsnail”.
Aleutian Moonsnail (Cryptonautica aleutica). Discover the brown dots on the mantle on this species.

I really feel higher! How about you?

There, I really feel reduction now that I’ve lastly been in a position to commit this details about moonsnails to a weblog.

I thought-about entitling this “Moonsnails – the Gateway Mollusc”. Why? The Northern Moonsnail is among the first species that erupted the lava of curiosity inside me for marine invertebrates. It began with two mysteries: I discovered a shell with a superbly spherical gap drilled into it and . . . I discovered the strangest, gray, spherical, seemingly cemented coils of sand.

Look the place it obtained me. 🙂

I hope this added to your data and appreciation for marvellous moonsnails.

Feminine Northern Moonsnail digging again into the sand after pushing her egg collar to the floor.

Extra element on moonsnail replica and feeding from Dr. Thomas Carefoot’s “A Snail’s Odyssey

Sexes are separate in moon snails [Neverita lewisii] and sperm switch is direct by way of a penis . . . The fertilised eggs are enclosed one to a capsule and extruded from the feminine in a mucousy combination that’s mixed with sand (left drawing under).

The color of the egg collar relies upon upon the kind of sand and different inclusions contained inside it.

Every egg/embryo rests in a jelly matrix inside an egg capsule. Moon snail veligers vary in shell size from 150-200µm. The bizarre form of the egg collar outcomes from the extruded combination being moulded between the propodium and the shell earlier than it units into its closing sand/jelly state (left center drawing under).

The extrusion and moulding happen beneath the sand, start initially of flood tide, and take 10-14h. After the preliminary moulding is completed, the feminine works over the egg-collar floor yet another time including a protecting sheath of sand and mucus (Proper center drawing under) and, on the similar time, pushing the collar upwards to the sand floor (proper drawing under).

Growth inside the capsule to a swimming veliger larva takes every week or so, and it’s attainable that the capsular fluid is utilised as meals. Simultaneous with the emergence of the larvae from their capsules, the sand-mucus matrix of the collar disintegrates and the larvae swim freely within the ocean.


Grownup moon snails are strict predators and principally eat bivalves. As lots of their prey reside at depths of as much as 20cm or extra, the snails must burrow fairly deeply to seek out them. Burrowing by moon snails is enabled by a big foot that’s able to inflating as much as 4 occasions the shell quantity by way of uptake of seawater. The inflation is fast, permitting quick penetration into and displacement of sand. The moon snail catches maintain of its prey and hauls it to the floor to start drilling.

Moon snails manipulate the shell of their bivalve prey in order that the umbo is closest to the mouth. Whether or not this gives best dealing with, or whether or not it’s to put the drill-hole straight over the majority of soppy physique tissues, will not be identified.  One other particular function of drill holes of Neverita lewisii is that they’re countersunk. This function permits the predatory data of the snails to be monitored extra intently than that of, say, whelks (whose drill-holes are much less distinctive). After a gap is drilled, the snail extends its proboscis hydraulically and commences scraping and consuming the tender inner tissues with its radula, which is on the tip of the proboscis.


Carefoot, Thomas. A Snail’s Odyssey

  • Moonsnail feeding
  • Moonsnail replica
  • Moonsnail locomotion

Gronau, Christian – Cortes Museum weblog; The Largest Moon of All

Lamb, A., Byers, S. C., Hanby, B. P., Hanby, B. P., & Hawkes, M. W. (2009). Marine lifetime of the Pacific Northwest: A photographic encyclopedia of invertebrates, seaweeds and chosen fishes. Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publ.

Washington State Division of Ecology – We’re over the moon for the moon snail

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