A moonsnail cements together sand grains and eggs in a collar shape encasement. (Photo by Jackie Hildering)

Moonsnails’ collar-shaped egg casings intrigue Vancouver Island beachcombers

As pictures of moonsnail collars go viral, the Marine Detective, steps in to educate people

Ever walked on a beach during low tide and noticed collar-shaped capsules?

And then wondered if it was probably trash?

Except it’s not. These collar-shaped cases are moonsnail collars consisting of thousands of eggs waiting to be hatched. And biologists are worried that people are unknowingly “cleaning” up moonsnail collars from the beaches.

Shaped like a detachable shirt collars, these glossy, sometimes rubbery looking bands often seem like industrial garbage to the untrained eye. Except, these are egg cases that female moonsnails build to lay eggs. They often surface on shores during low tides.

Jackie Hildering, a biologist and educator with the Marine Education and Research Society was most happy to see a lot of people suddenly wanting to know more about these sea mollusks.

Hildering took to her educational website, ‘The Marine Detective’ to explain the fascinating science behind moonsnail collars, after a resident posted pictures on social media wanting to know what they were.

Moonsnail collars contain thousands of microscopic eggs and sand held together with the moonsnail’s mucus. According to Hildering, the process is an “outstanding feat of engineering.”

When moonsnails are ready to lay eggs they collect grains of sand with their feet and, using mucus, cement the sand grains and eggs together to form this collar. The snail is often at the centre of this structure. After laying eggs and sealing them with yet another layer of sand and mucus, the snail crawls away from underneath the structure. When the eggs hatch, the collar breaks and the larvae swim out.

An intact collar indicates that it contains moonsnail eggs and should not be disturbed. Hildering advocates for a ‘no-take, no-touch’ policy and advises people against moving the collars.

Neither the moonsnails nor the collars are a recent phenomena, they appear every year on sandy beaches throughout the Island and are often visible during low tides.

“Moonsnails have been on earth probably even before humans,” said Hildering.

The fact that many people have only begun noticing them of recent, highlighted the disconnect that humans have had with nature all this while.

“After the pandemic, people have become more tuned with nature,” said Hildering, adding that several other variables including low tides made it possible for people to rediscover these fascinating mollusks on the island.

Lewis’ moonsnails are the largest and most commonly found species of moonsnail found on B.C. coasts.

Hildering also stressed on the need for people on Vancouver Island’s coast to know more about ocean creatures found closer home. She maintained that information and education are key to protecting more species.

Beach ethics and more on moonsnails can be found on The Marine Detective

READ ALSO: B.C.’s $50 million geoduck industry hit after China’s market slumps

READ ALSO: A Friday the 13th near-full moon brings midnight walkers out to Campbell River’s Willow Point Reef

EnvironmentOcean Protection

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Greater Victoria housing market sees positive bump in June

Sales up by 76.8 per cent compared to May

Owners say loss of parking pushes businesses to the brink

New Penny Farthing patio ‘will be like New Orleans, or Las Vegas’

Saanich plugs into $100,000 government grant for 20 new EV chargers

Six chargers to be installed at four municipal parks

Saanich woman says sexual assault was dismissed by police because of her ‘body language’

Patrol officers investigate sexual assault files, make decisions on what goes to Crown counsel

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight in Victoria

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

Playing his tune

Musician Daniel Morel breaks out a tune with his harmonica in front… Continue reading

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Black worker files discrimination complaint against Facebook

Oscar Veneszee, Jr. has worked as an operations program manager at Facebook since 2017

Nestle Canada selling bottled water business to local family-owned company

The Pure Life bottled water business is being sold to Ice River Springs

Major B.C. salmon farm tests new containment system to curb sea lice infestations

System “essentially eliminates” contact between wild and farmed fish stocks, says Cermaq

Most Read