Friday, October 30, 2015

MORE Moonsnail Mudflat Mania

I've got a thing for moon snails.  I'm sweet on them.  Really sweet.

That's why every year I look forward to dragging my students out onto the mudflats.  Of course, we investigate a lot of things -- clams and worms are pretty important parts of this ecosystem, so we devote some good time to digging down into the muck looking for them.

But really, I come for the moon snails.  They never fail to get exclamations of glee from the students (and me, frankly).

We run two labs a week.  On both of our trips out to the flats this year, we barely found a snail.  Amy Johnson, the professor I work with for the class, found one on Tuesday just as we were leaving.  And Wednesday, a student found a moon snail at the very last moment -- as we were climbing up the stairs, she was the last off the flat.  Her call of "what's this?  Hey, is this a moon snail?" had us all running back to see.  What luck -- a moon snail each lab day.  Hooray!

We always start the day by simply hanging off a dock and watching the fouling community.  You never know what you'll find!

I love how nerdy my students are.  Soooo nerdy.
While on the dock, we often see barnacles feeding:

As soon as the tide is far enough out, we hit the flats.  I tell them right away to start searching for moon snails.  At first they think I'm joking about these giant, ravenous snails out here, but soon we find evidence:

Shells from moon snails and waved whelks (also badass predators).

This hole was drilled by a moon snail.  Whoa.
We are forced to do work rather than focusing exclusively on moon snails.  Here we are watching a razor clam try to dig itself back into the sediment.

It did not succeed; we took it home to my tanks.

Amy explaining how to catch a worm.  She's an expert in this stuff.

Starting to dig.  What did we find?

A sipunculid!  Peanut worm!
 At this point we got into the thick muck.  For some, it was too much.

Donny, having a good laugh after taking a tumble.  Luckily he was in a rain suit!
 And FINALLY, we found a moon snail.  Hooray Amy!

And brought it home:

Moon snail with its foot wrapped around a razor clam.  Yum yum!


  1. I wonder if they're wicked good in a chowda'?

  2. Damon asks the same question every year!

    I'll pass on finding out.