Saturday, February 28, 2009

My friend Maury Hall and his colleague Michael Moore have helped me to identify the herring parasite we saw last fall as Lernaeenicus sprattae.

You can find out more about it by following this link.

Thanks to all of you for your help with this. I will keep an eye on the situation and post an update when the herring return to the harbor and the river later this year


Why I like to study snails.

Why I like Land Snails.
First, they don't bite (much), shed or moult. They are pretty quiet and don't require much space. They sleep for months if you let them, though they eat like pigs and take laps around their snailarium when they wake up.

Second, once you discover where they are likely to be, you will be amazed at just how many - and how many kinds - there are. Most of the common ones (like mine) are invasive species, though some have lived here in America for a very long time.

They are extraordinarily colorful, and have cool names, like the asian tramp snail, or the florida scrub snail - both of which I have found in South Beach,which seems oddly appropriate.

I have learned an enormous amount about science and natural history from studying them in the wild, and studying their behavior in temporary captivity.

They are a scalable (simple to amazingly complex) case study in evolutionary biology and genetics.

They are easier to catch than rabbits, parrots, raccoons, snakes or lizards -all of which I have kept as pets, and none of which I would recommend as pets.

They don't live as long as turtles,which means less long term responsibility - I am not prepared to make another 20 year commitment to a box turtle.

If you look closely, you can see them smile when you pet them.

If they get out of their container, they are easy to find: Just follow the slime trail.

Properly prepared, some species are delicious - though I would never eat mine, and appear to have lost my taste for escargot for the present.

Sometime I will tell you why I hate most water snails, especially periwinkles!