Moon Snail...Live!

My next visit to the beach at low tide revealed a living Lewis's Moon Snail; In my previous post I showed the shell and egg casing; this time I found the living mollusk!  The top photo shows the moonsnail from the side with its mantle (foot) extended and moving from left to right.  Note the huge size of the covers nearly half the shell!  The brown lines marking the mantle are exquisite in their detail!  The locomotion lubricant (slime trail) is visible extending behind the snail.

The next photo (taken from above) shows the front edge of the foot (right), the 
siphon (top right, with thin black border), and the two black lined cephalic tentacles.  
These are sense organs that perform multiple functions including smell, "sight" and mate attraction. They are only partially extended here.

The third photo show two examples of the operculum (little lid), the amber tinted "door" that is attached to the foot which allows the moonsnail to seal its shell opening tightly with the snail inside to prevent drying out (such as at low tide).  The snail's body is so large compared to the shell that it cannot stay sealed in the shell for too long or it will die from lack of oxygen.  Opercula are quite beautiful in color and shape!

If you like the moon snail, please stay tuned for my upcoming video showing this fascinating creature in motion!  I will post this Getting Wild episode soon.



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