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Islandbound

Snailzilla

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We watched this guy munch his way across the algae at about 8 feet deep. The eyes are not on stalks but are located along the central head area and they do follow you as you move by. When my wife stopped to look at it, the snail(?) stopped, looked at her and a face off ensued until my wife ran out of air. Anyone know what it is?

 

Hmm, anyone have a recipe for Escargot-de-Mer? :rolleyes:

 

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Might be although ab bodies can completely retract into the shell & it doesn't look as if yours can, plus the head region doesn't look quite right. Did you notice a row of air holes on the shell like in the pic Chris posted? That would definitely make it an abalone. I've asked a friend who's a mollusc expert to drop by & check out your post.

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According to Don Barclay, an ardent mollusc lover & IP expert, it's Haliotis asinina described by Linnaeus back in 1758; that long skinny shell is fairly unique among abalones.

 

Some images of the shell can be found at http://www.gastropods.com/9/Shell_119.html

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Thanks Leslie! You are truly the Queen of Creatures! Somewhere I have photos I took of the abalone from above and from other angles that I dumped onto a remote drive but cant locate. I take about 500-800photos a week and dont end up processing them all but do save them. Not sure what I save them for, but I do save them. If I find the shell photos I will post them, if memory serves me correctly it was a very small shell compared to the size of the animal and there is NO way it would fit into the shell.

 

One more question Leslie, we are certain that the abalone was following us with its vision. How well can this abalone see underwater and is it a vision like a bug or a human?

 

It moved its head to better see us when we around it and you can see this in the photo with my wife, it was looking up at her. The frontal shot shows the abalone moving its head to locate the camera lens with one eye. I was not used to this from a creature like this and it was kind of creepy.

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More like a handmaiden. I just know the right people to ask.

 

Abalones have primitive eyes which only register light and dark. You can read a short article on the eyes of molluscs at

http://www.weichtiere.at/english/mollusca/eyes.html

 

With luck, Don will recheck this post and have something more intelligent to say about abalone behavior and how/why/if it was responding to you. :D

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Hi All,

 

I tried to answer this message directly, but the forum wouldn't accept my post. Thanks for relaying for me, Leslie. I'm not really sure how well an abalone can see, but I suspect its eyes simply distinguish between light and dark, and can't really resolve images. Most snails will react to shadows passing over them, or lights being turned on or off, and abalones will do the same. I've seen cowries react to the presence of predatory cone snails, but I suspect it was due to some sense other than eyesight. Cowry eyes are about as sophisticated as abalone eyes, i.e., not very. I enjoyed seeing the Haliotis asinina photos, great views of the animal.

 

Cheers,

 

 

Don

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Thanks Don, It was kind of fun to watch while it worked its way around the wall. It could clearly be heard either munching or moving as it worked its way through the rocks. Sorry for the odd color but it was a dusk dive and the flash was running out of juice and put out a yellow tinted light.

 

I thought I would post a pic of a predatory snail now that you mentioned it...!

 

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I thought I would post a pic of a predatory snail now that you mentioned it...!

 

Well that's an interesting shot. You're right, both those guys are predators, but they aren't supposed to predate on each other... Conus sponsalis (nanus) is reportedly a worm eater, but he's obviously checking out the smaller snail. His siphon is right against the head or body of the little guy. I think the encrusted one is an Engina species, as it has the characteristic dark gray and white banded siphon. He's pretty optimistic if he's thinking about having a cone snail dinner. :)

 

Cheers,

 

 

Don

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