Attack of the carnivorous snails!

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.

3 Responses

  1. You're cracking me up here. Reminds me of a few years ago when we took a Barrier Island Eco Tour in North Carolina. and the naturalist referred to a moon snail as "Mr. Spit and Lick" because of it's similar habits, which Wikipedia describes thusly: "Upon finding one, it "drills" a hole into the shell with its radula, releases digestive enzymes, and sucks out the somewhat predigested contents." Yum.
  2. Jeff
    I had a large carnivorous snail in my tank. I made a salt water tank from the Great South Bay off Long Island, NY. When I cought this huge snail we thought it was really cool as it charged under the sand like a horror movie creature. We fed it some dead fish we put under the sand (and against the glass too watch). But it also was killing the eco system as it devoured everything living in the sand. It was also too big and strong, so it moved everything and dislodged plants as it hunted. It finally starved to death.
  3. Jeff
    also found an awesome video on youtube. this is NOT the type of snail I had in my tank. but if you want to see a snail attack and eat a fish very quickly, check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtPVgW3rLqE

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