A few years ago, I was excited to write about one of our local tube snails, Petaloconchus montereyensis. (You can review that post from 11 June 2012).
I mentioned that Petaloconchus produces mucus nets to capture food particles from the water. Well, just last month, Eric caught some of their feeding behavior in a short video.
Before watching the video, it will be helpful to remember a few things:
Petaloconchus has two sets of tentacles: the cephalic tentacles are larger, darker, closer to the edge of the shell, and near their base, have a black spot, which is the eye. The pedal tentacles are smaller, paler, and closer to the operculum (the round "trap-door"). Look for both types of tentacles in the photo below and in the video. (The pedal tentacles help guide the mucus nets when feeding.)
To feed, Petaloconchus spreads a large mucus net into the water for capturing drifting particles. Then they use their radula (tongue-like organ lined with rows of shiny teeth) to grasp the mucus net and haul it back into the mouth using a very rhythmic motion. This is one of the behaviors highlighted in the video.
These tube snails are relatively small — the largest tube openings are ~2 mm across — so Eric filmed them under a microscope. Otherwise, it wouldn't be easy to observe this behavior and to watch these fascinating snails in action. Thanks, Eric!