An early morning snorkel produced one of those exciting finds that proves a point. What do Moonsnails eat and how do they do it? We found several of these snails plowing through the sand in search of mollusks to wrap their foot around and drill through shells to reach the edible insides. This sounds intriguing, but to find a moonsnail doing what the books describe helps our understanding.
We were in luck, when one snorkeler
found a moonsnail wrapped around a small razor clam called a Ribbed
Pod. Campers rarely find a live Ribbed Pod; usually we find their
empty purple shells lying on the beach. Some call them angel wings,
and admire their delicate beauty. If a Moonsnail plows into this
small clam, it will eat it by folding its foot around the shells
and opening them. In time, the trapped clam will open and the
meat inside disappear.
In the top picture, you see the snail with its foot wrapped around the clam. As we handled the snail, its foot "let go" and the clam was revealed. It further responded to the handling by pulling its foot inside the shell and closing its protective door. Later, the snail opened up again and proceeded to finish off the Ribbed Pod.
Here are some pictures of those beautiful little clam shells to further our understanding. You can also see the "rib" inside the shells that gives them their name.
So there you have our moonsnail story, and its dietary desires. We have found them eating Surf Clams, and long Razor Clams on other occasions, and have picked up numerous Surf Clam shells and snails that they have drilled open using a mouth device called a radula. These Moonsnails are amazing!
8/1/06 Snorkeling Ronnie in the waters of Maine