Salt Marsh Part 2: A Snail Tale

(Continued from this post.)  Peer into the vegetation in the salt marsh and you’ll quickly realize that the whole place is absolutely crawling with snails.

(Note also the salt crystals encrusting the grass – it’s not called the salt marsh for nothing!)

These snails are Melampus bidentatus, the common marsh snail, an air-breathing snail that munches on decaying marsh grass.  When the high tide floods the marsh, they crawl up to the tops of the stalks of grass to stay above the water level.  They seem to “know” when the tide is coming in, but no one really understands how.

We sometimes do an activity with the kids we call “snail charming,” in which you press a snail against your throat and hum; the idea is that the vibrations coax it to open up and peer out of its shell.  I’ve found that simply holding a snail still in your had works just as well, but it’s fun to watch a group of middle school students humming in harmony while holding little snail shells pressed against their vocal cords!

I think they’re cure.  Then again, I think snakes are cuddly.

6 replies on “Salt Marsh Part 2: A Snail Tale”

Me, too! Thanks for the info on this type of marsh. When I was visiting Cumberland Island, I didn’t get a chance for a close-up look at these marshes. We don’t have quite the same sort of marshes in Oz. Part 3 please!

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