One of the world’s largest marine snails is endangered | National Geographic

special coincidence

The study focused on the shells found in Florida, but the species Triplofusus giganteus It occurs in the coastal region of the Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina, across the Gulf of Mexico to the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula. According to archaeologist Karen J. Walker, indigenous peoples in coastal areas ate snails and used the powerful “pillar” inside the shell as cover. Since “horse conch” are predators that feed on smaller, more common marine snails such as snails, the number of large sea snails has always been smaller than that of other mollusks.

However, it has occurred in the past in a much broader area, Herbert’s research said, compared to the longer term where shells have been found in the bay in the past and where the animals still live today. This declining habitat could mean that species are becoming scarce, or they may already be extinct in certain areas, Herbert said. Researchers do not have a good baseline measurement of animal population; By the time around 1950, the first studies of . were Triplofusus giganteus Shells are already very popular in America. At the 1966 Saint Petersburg Shell Fair, anyone with a horse conch over 50 cm in length was allowed to enter for free. Newspaper articles from that time show collectors and souvenir hunters scoring burlap shells (the “lid” with which the shell can be closed) intact. This is often a sign that the snail was still alive when captured and that the animal was euthanized while the cap was reattached to the shell.

Increased environmental awareness in the following decades has benefited the shell population: responsible beachgoers leave shells with a snail still alive on the beach. Some local governments in Florida, which follow those in Sanibel, have even banned or limited the collection of live oysters. But along most of the coast, horse oysters are still heavily harvested for aquariums or the antique trade, and shells can fetch $90 or more each.

The results showed that the snails would benefit from harvest restrictions, such as minimum size, which allows the animals to lay eggs at least once, and maximum size, to protect the most productive females. Mother snails are much larger than males and have a higher chance of being killed by their shell.

Mortal love for the icon

“The new research is as compelling as it is intriguing,” said mollusk expert Jose H. Leal, scientific director and curator of Billy Matthews and editor-in-chief of the Journal. nautilus, one of the oldest scientific journals on mollusks. Lyell, who was not involved in the study, said that while it’s not easy to get people excited about slippery slugs, this snail is worth a try. ‘They are known. they are beautiful. This species is the official veneer of Florida. “

in 1969 Triplofusus giganteus Designated as an official symbol by the state of Florida. On voting day, Palm Beach Shell Club members placed a shell on the desks of all 160 Florida Representatives. Today, it is one of the symbols of Florida surrounded by the same people who admired them. The state’s animal, the Florida panther, is nearly extinct under the pressure of hunting and the disappearance of its habitat. The state’s marine animal, the manatee, is dying largely from lack of food as pollution affects the seagrass. The state tree is called a palm tree Sabal Palmetto, falls prey to a deadly disease spread by invasive pests. In addition, the species is becoming extinct in coastal forests because the soil is becoming more salty due to sea level rise.

Herbert said the study shows how temporal sclerosis can contribute to understanding mollusks without collecting or killing increasingly rare animals. While population data is limited, research results show that the species deserves protection, he says. The situation can be compared to a wobbly bowl that has not yet fallen. If no one catches it, it can happen.”

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