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moon snail
Moon Snail
Featured Shellfish - Gastropods (Snails)

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Gastropods (snails)

 Left-handed Turrid

Left-handed Turrid - Antiplanes perversa

Common Dogwhelk and Left-handed turrid

Snails with hands?

Left-handed turrids, aka "perverse whelks" have a rare trait among gastropods (snails). Their shells are "sinistral" meaning that they turn counterclockwise.

Most all snails coil clockwise as seen in the common dogwhelk , Nucella lamelossa.

perverse whelk and wrinkeled dogwinkle
Left-handed turrid and Wrinkeled Dogwinkle
green topsnail
Green topsnail

The right way to turn?

This green topsnail shows the far more common clockwise (or dextral) coiling.

Green topsnail
Green topsnail

Capable of creating nuclear whorl

The first whorl of a snail is refererred to as the "Nuclear whorl", many snails, such as the dogwhelk lay eggs with "crawl away" larvae.


 Lewis' Moon Snail

Lewis' Moon Snail - Polinices lewisi

By John Schaefer, 1997

Moon Snail ShellThe moon snail is a large gastropod typically found partially buried in sand and mud beaches. It can attain a size over 5 inches in shell diameter and can extend a fleshy foot to over 12 inches in diameter. As large as this foot may seem, it can completely fit inside the shell after expelling considerable amounts of water.

Attached to the foot is a thin horn-like oval object called the operculum. The operculum closed off the opening to the shell like a trap door when the shell pulls it's body inside.

The moon snail is a predator mainly on clams, which it reaches by digging with it's large foot. Clam shells found with a perfectly round hole drilled in them were probably eaten by moon snails.

Low tides in the spring and summer are the best time to look for moon snails. At this time, they come into shallow water lay their eggs. Moon snail egg cases, commonly called sand collars, appear to be thin pieces of rubber in the shape of a round collar. They are composed of snail eggs sandwiched between layers of mucus coated with sand.

For shell collectors, the snail can be removed by boiling in water with a few drops of vegetable oil. Collectors generally also save the operculum, gluing it to a piece of cotton and stuffing it into the shell in the natural position. The boiled snail meat will be very tough and not really fit for eating.

Moon SnailIf you plan on eating your snails, the meat should be removed raw. The meat can be removed without harming the shell by slipping a thin knife down the inside curve of the shell and cutting across the opening. This will sever the muscle attaching the shell. If properly cut, the whole animal will easily pull free from the intact shell. This is tricky at first, but will become easier with practice. Alternatively, the shell can be cracked with a hammer to remove the meat.

Once the meat is free of the shell, remove the soft dark spiral shaped organs, slice off the operculum, and cut off the head. Slice the meat crosswise into 1/2 inch steaks, sprinkle with meat tenderizing powder, and pound with a meat hammer. Place in the refrigerator for 24 hours to allow the tenderizer time to work. If the meat tenderizer contains salt, rinse the steaks in water to remove excess salt before cooking. Dip each steak in egg wash, dredge in flour or bread crumbs, then fry until brown.

More about the Lewis' moon snail

Lewis’ moon snail gets its name from Meriwether Lewis, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, who returned from his expedition with the impressive shell specimens from the mouth of the Columbia River.

What moon snails eat

The clam shells on the right show some common species preyed on by Moon snails. Littlenecks and macoma clams are staples of their diet while harder shelled clams such as the butter clam (seen on top) may be more of a challenge for their drills. As illustrated here, moon snails typically drill at the clams umbo (shell hinge).

red rock crab sizes up moon snailWhat eats moon snails

Moon snails are prey items for the largest of rock crab. The powerful claws of red rock crabs are well suited for cracking into the thick tough shell of moon snails.


Moon snails have separate sexes.

sand collarThe female extrudes a casing of hardened mucus filled with fertilized eggs. The egg case is called a “sand collar” and is familiar to many beach goers.

moon snale predation
Moon snail predation



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