Saturday, October 12, 2019

Conchs...A Food Post, But It's Not About You, Human.

Yes, yes, ... I know. 
Conch makes great chowder, fantastic fritters, and tangy ceviche.
I get that.
But this post is not about your predatory relationship with members of Class Gastropoda.
This post is about the conchs' (and their whelky cousins) predatory ways.

So, go ahead and watch the video and then we'll continue...

Snails like the Crown Conch (Melongena coronaand the unfortunate Lightning Whelk (Busycon sinistrum) in the video are active predators and scavengers. 

The Lightning Whelk in the video is a young one. The Whelk actually grows to a much larger size than the Crown Conch.
Had the Whelk survived to maturity instead of winding up as Conch lunch, the tables could have easily been turned in this encounter.

In the video, the Conch has almost completely engulphed the Whelk, but the Whelk is not "inside" the Conch.
You are not seeing the "mouth" of the Conch with just the "apex" of the Whelk visible.

The Whelk is wrapped up and almost completely covered by the muscular foot and mantle of the Conch.

What we can't see beneath all that is the actual eating action.

Below the surface, the Conch is using its "Radula" to scrape the Whelk apart and consume it.  Radulas are sometimes described as a "toothed tongue" which gives a pretty good mental image, even if mollusks don't have true teeth.

The Radula is covered with sharp chitinous points that act like a rasp to scrape off bits of food so they can be passed into the mouth of the Conch. 

Once the Conch is finished, the Whelk shell will be totally cleaned of flesh. 

When you stroll a beach and find that "perfect" shell, all fresh looking with vibrant colors still, it's probably the leftovers from some Gastropod's lunch.

See if this has happened to you...
You are shelling on some beach, and you find a clam or cockle shell with a perfectly round hole drilled near the apex of the shell. 

Yup, a radula has been there... the Oyster Drill snails use their radula to drill THROUGH the shell of bivalves to get to the yummy flesh inside.



Heather M. said...

That is so cool about radulas! I always wondered about those holes in shells. I guess they pretty much were drilled, I had no idea.

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