The Surprising Moon Snail

Washed up along the shoreline at Edwards Point Reserve recently were hundreds of crescent-shaped jelly cases. You may have memories of squishing them between your toes as you walked barefoot along the beach. However, if you were to hold them up to the light, you would see hundreds of tiny eggs within the protective jelly. These egg masses are laid by a Moon Snail, Polinices (Conuber) sordidus.

The Moon snail has a smooth rounded shell and is dark cream to grey in colour. It grows to around 3cm in size. Being a carnivorous mollusc, it feeds in the intertidal zone on other snails and invertebrates. It does this by wrapping its foot around the prey and then proceeds to drill a hole with its radula (sharp tongue with teeth) into the shell or carapace. Once the hole is drilled, they proceed to devour their prey. If you are fortunate to see a live snail cruising along the sand, you will see their large fleshy purple ‘foot’ wrapping around the outside of the shell. Their name is not related to the Moon or tides but from the ‘half moon’ shape of the large opening on the underside of their shell.

Words and photo – Wendy Roberts