I was half-listening to the radio and I was pretty sure I heard the announcer say, “blah blah blah red tide blah blah surf clams and carnivorous snails…”  Carnivorous snails?? On the rampage and out for blood, causing the tide to run red??

OK, they’re not actually on a rampage, and they don’t look like that illustration.  But still, how embarrassing would it be to be so slow or unwary that you could be devoured by a snail?

A little surfing came up with this turgid notice from the Division of Marine Fisheries which outlines what critters are off-limits due to toxins produced by the algae that comprise red tide. I consider myself a somewhat adventurous eater, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen “carnivorous snail” on a menu.

Under authority of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 130, Section 74A and 75, the status of the below-defined areas have been changed to CLOSED TO THE TAKING OF BLUE MUSSELS, SURF CLAMS, CARNIVOROUS SNAILS AND WHOLE SEA SCALLOPS WITH THE EXCEPTION OF SEA SCALLOP ADDUCTOR MUSCLE effective immediately. Digging, harvesting or collecting and/or attempting to dig, harvest or collect shellfish and the possession of shellfish, including carnivorous snails, from the below- defined areas is prohibited.

By June 3, the red tide had at least partially subsided, as reported under the possibly punny headline, clam beds partially open but alas, (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) carnivorous snails are still off-limits.

The Division of Marine Fisheries has reopened clam beds in Essex Bay and the Annisquam River for softshell clams and razor clams … The beds remain closed to taking other shellfish including blue mussels, surf clams, carnivorous snails and whole sea scallops …

Answering my earlier question about just what a carnivorous snail might eat, I’ve learned that carnivorous snails have some sort of drill-like attachment that they use to bore holes in the shells of other shellfish in order to devour them.  Eek.  More horrifying mollusc-on-mollusc predation here, including, and I kid you not, “The cone snail: the bearer of flying venom-filled needle teeth.”  Not for the faint of heart.