Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Snail Cafeteria

When the tide is low here on Cape Cod Bay, you can walk out forever on the mud flats, watching the seagulls, feeling the sand ripples massaging your soles, and noticing all sorts of sea life that isn't visible when the tide is high and the eelgrass is all but hidden by the water and the waves are fringed with white.

The absence of waves when the tide is low reveals so much.
Sand ripples.  Wanna know how good these feel under your bare feet?

Of all the forms and fauna revealed by the low tide, my favorite is  the snail cafeteria.  That's what I call a collection of snails feeding on a dead crab or clam.

This is a video of a snail cafeteria, showing the alacrity with which these gastropods come sliming across the mud, but I'm not sure whether I've downloaded it correctly so it's viewable.

The snails are mud snails, Nassariidae, and this particular kind, I think, are the Eastern Mud Nassa, Ilynassa obsoleta.  They're marine gastropod mollusks, and, according to my nature guide, "when they find a dead fish or other creature (they sense its presence through chemicals in the water), they may emerge in great numbers to feed."

They come sliming along as fast as their feet can take them.  They each have one foot and project it from their shells to slide along on it.  Not very quickly.

What do they see in a dead crab?

Maybe the same thing I see.  I love crabcakes.  But I prefer my crabs cooked.

The sky over the snail cafeteria

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