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Life Below - Conch Snail

On the Ocean floor, an often overlooked being resides. It´s soft and slippery body is protected by a hard cone shaped shell. It glides peacefully across the bottom of the Ocean, searching for perfect spots to graze on algae with it´s long snout like mouth.
Illustation by Mikkel Juul Jensen
"The everyday life of the Conch Snail may sound rather simple. Find food, and avoid becoming someones meal."

But when being highly delicious, which is the case for the Conch Snail, this can be a bit of a struggle, since many animals long to place the soft bodied, slippery and hard-shelled being, on a platter.

These predators favoring a Conch Snail for supper, are called “Molluscivores”.

Molluscivores are carnivore animals, that prefers a diet consisting of prey from the mollusk classification… “Mollusks” is rather large classification, that consists of both Octopuses and Squids, Snails and Slugs, Clams and more !

So in fact, being Molluscivore does grant the option for a quite varied diet.

But Conch Snails are not fond of the idea of being targeted as primary prey, since evolution did not exactly favor these peculiar looking animals the ability to swim fast, nor run on the Ocean floor, to flee from the attacker.

Though, apart from just retracting into it´s shell, the Conch Snail does have trick to escape… It jumps !

With it´s large foot, it takes a leap and pursues to hurdle from it´s attacker.

When the predator is a large spotted eagle ray, with special evolved jaws to easily crush the shell of the Conch Snail, - quick decision making and jumping is the only chance of escape.

This very special ability has helped this mollusk to survive as a specie for approximately 150 million years.

But a study shows, that the Conch Snail may loose this vital skill, due to the rising Co2 levels in the Oceans.

The study, lead Dr Sue-Ann Watson, observed that when the Conch Snail is exposed to the levels of carbon dioxide projected for the end of this century, the Conch Snail takes much longer time to make the decision to jump - or, it just does not jump at all.

It is often discussed how Co2 is in fact damaging the growth of animals shells in the Ocean, making them more vulnerable to predators…

But the disruption of the Conch Snails ability to jump, sets an example on how Climate Change does have an impact on the behaviorism, that of a snail.

Carbon dioxide and Ocean acidification disrupts a particular neurotransmitter receptor in the Snail's nervous system. Which means the receptor delays vital decision-making on fleeing from the attacker.

And this is a huge problem !

It might not sound vital, if a Snail can or can´t jump, but this future lost ability most likely will effect the whole food chain in the Ocean, - and at the end of the line - also humans.


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