Predators & defenses
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Research study 1

photograph of moon-snail shell with operculum visibleThere are no studies specifically relating to predators and defenses in west-coast moon snails. Neverita lewisii crawls about openly on the sand and, in intertidal locations, is sometimes exposed to air or at least is shallow enough to be visible and photograph of a moon snail partially withdrawn into its shell lying alongside an egg collar, perhaps its ownaccessible to birds. The flesh is plump and seemingly tasty to fishes, so if fishes avoid moon snails as prey, the liklihood is that the flesh is toxic or otherwise unpalatable. The shell is strong and protected by a proteinaceous operculum (see photograph of museum specimen on Right), but moon snails in nature are rarely observed to be withdrawn completely in their shells. Clearly, research on the subject is needed.

Moon snail Neverita lewisii, possibly with its own egg collar,
exposed on a sandflat. The snail is attempting to close
its operculum, but some fleshy parts are in the way 0.3X

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Research study 2

photograph of a sunflower star Pycnopodia helianthoides digging for preyIn an older study on predators of Polinices lewisii a British researcher describes an encounter of a moon snail with a sunflower star Pycnopodia helianthoides. In short order the foot is withdrawn, accompanied by a spray of water from its periphery, much as from a garden sprinkler. The withdrawn snail soon becomes exhausted, likely from asphyxia, and falls easy prey to the sea star. In one experiment, 2 moon snails are eaten by a single sun star in 3d, leaving only the shells and opercula. The author concludes by suggesting that Pycnopodia could possibly protect oyster beds from the burrowing activities of moon snails by acting, one guesses, as a kind of guard dog, but only if this sea-star species does not eat oysters. Kjerskog-Agersborg 1920 The Am Nat 54 (634): 414.



Sunflower star Pycnopodia helianthoides digs
for a buried prey...perhaps a moon snail...?

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