The Moon Snail (Lunatia lewisii), or Caracol luna in Spanish, feeds on clams and mussels by drilling into their shells, spraying them with acidic juices, and sucking out the partially dissolved prey. How do they drill? They use a ribbon-like structure (a radula) that has thousands of tiny, chitinous teeth to drill holes into the shells of prey. After a hole is drilled, the snail eats the soft internal tissues. If you come across a shell with a perfect circle cut out of it, you’re probably seeing the result of a moon snail’s work.
Food: Mainly clams, mussels, other moon snails
Predators: Other moon snails
Visit the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve for the chance to see a moon snail in its natural intertidal habitat.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Lee