Friday, April 29, 2011

Creatures from the Labs

A couple of cool animals from the labs to talk about today. From the algae lab, they found another Painted Nudibranch, a true sea slug - see our previous post on these spectacular animals at Painted Sea Slug.

Then, there was the most beautiful version of a Nicobar Triton snail that I have ever seen. Its shell was a deep red with white stripes - under the usual brown hairs.

Yes snails are often hairy. They have what is called a “periostracum”, a thin protein based coating on top of the calcium shell. This layer helps seal off the developing shell from seawater so calcium can be deposited. In some snails, the coating is much thicker and continues to be protective, assisting with camouflage among other things.

Triton snails are big time predators, feeding on echinoderms (seastars or sea cukes) or other mollusks (snails and clams). In this case the Nichobar Triton preys on other snails. In fact, they are not very picky about which type of snail they go after and will take down a wide variety of prey. So, although I transferred ours to our touch tank, it will be a short timer there - just until we can get a good image or two. I don't want to lose all of our top snails in the tank.



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