Mexican Red Foot Snail

The Mexican red foot snail, also known as the red foot moon snail, is a species of medium sized gastropoda widespread along the Pacific coast, from Monterey to Baja. These spectacular snails prefer shallow waters that are not as warm as tropical waters and regions that have plenty of kelp, especially giant kelp that the snail can climb on to find protection against bottom-dwelling predators.

The Mexican red foot snail is relatively large, growing to the approximate length of around 9 cm, with shells reaching around 6 cm in diameter. The shell is not ribbed, its smooth surface being striated mildly only by growth lines. The shell is reddish-brown and it turns black around the edge. The foot of the snail is of a reddish yellow, with black lining on the margins. The mouth and the horns are black as well. Though slow, red foot snails migrate on a daily basis, especially vertically, from the top to the bottom of the kelp during the day and then back up during the night. They are shy animals that like hiding in cracks and crevices found on rocks on the substrate and withdraw inside their shell whenever they feel threatened – the shell is resistant to shocks and the snail can close it completely for even more protection.

The rocky intertidal zones that serve as the preferred habitat of the Mexican red foot provide plenty of algae, other microscopic organisms and decaying organic matter that the snail can graze on. These snails also feed on kelp, being frequently found in kelp forests, especially in areas populated by the giant kelp. The animal tears particles off the kelp with its radula, a strong and sharp tongue.

Marine biologists do not know too much about how these snails proliferate, and males and females are not clearly distinguishable either, but there are two methods adopted by marine snails: some species choose internal fertilization, with the male introducing is sperm into the body of the female, followed by the release or laying of the fertilized eggs by the female; others choose broadcast spawning, individuals releasing sperm and eggs into the water and fertilization taking place outside the body of the snails. The average lifespan of the Mexican red foot snail is around 1-2 years.

Blane Perun

Diver - Photographer - Traveler

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