A snail egg example in a minute, but first I wanted to invite you to an upcoming beach walk where we’ll probably find eggs and snails in the flesh. Beach Naturalists in the Kitsap WSU Beach Watchers program (and me as the co-coordinating UW Husky) will lead a walk on Thursday, February 25th, 2010 from 7-8:30PM (-1.1 tide at about 8:15PM).
A few parking spots are available where Sebring Dr. splits off from the ferry line. You can also park roadside on Cherry or possibly in the Southworth Grocery Parking (don’t know their hours). I’m sure there’s street parking elsewhere in the community. I think the big lot next to the ferry line is $5. We will start at the point of entry at the end of SE Sebring Drive (click for map) and walk south under the ferry dock and beyond. In Seattle area? For the price of a walk-on ticket from Fontleroy (~$6) you can enjoy an awesome evening on the water.
Bring flashlights/headlamps and warm waterproof clothes and boots. We’ll see lots of life under the ferry dock and and along the beach. We’ll also see a cool eroding high bluff (as much as we can in the dark anyway). If we catch some sea pens in the right mood, maybe we can check out their bioluminescence. We’ll also keep our eyes out for snail eggs…
Some marine snails lay very distinctive eggs. The most commonly encountered is the frilled dogwinkle (Nucella lamellosa). These beauties aggregate and produce eggs in prodigious quantities. The bright yellow, rice shaped blankets of eggs on a rock will catch your attention. Then look at the base of the rock and you will likely see a few or even heaps of adult snails. Frilled dogwinkles range in color from brown to cream to orange and purple. They aren’t always frilled either. More often than not, I see them with rather smooth shells. Their shells thicken and lose the frills in response to the presence of predators (red rock crab for example). Frilled dogwinkles are slow compared to a crab, but their speed is plenty adequate for their immobile prey (barnacles and mussels). I’ll share other snail egg images in the future.
An amazing site I came across for images of marine mollusk (clams, snails, limpets, chitons, abalone, etc.) shell, live animal and egg images is the Pacific Northwest Shell Club website. I can’t imagine this escargot or caviar on my dinner plate, but I hope you enjoy looking at it as much as I do. Enjoy the afternoon and evening low tides this week! JEff
Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Ocean and Fishery Sciences and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea-life blog, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 360-337-4619.