The Frilled Dogwinkle of the Pacific Northwest
One of several pacific northwest species of tidal snails called a Dogwinkle, the highly variable frilled Dogwinkle is different from other similar species, it has no grooved channels encircling the shell and the lack of colored bands like other snails. In sheltered areas they commonly have a thin frill along the shell, but when growing in a wave swept beach, the frills are often missing.
This snail is a major predator of barnacles, feeding primarily on the acorn barnacle. It drills a hole in the prey using it’s teeth covered tongue and injects poison into the barnacle. The snail can then insert it’s tongue to scrape out the meat. Sometimes they are so prevalent that they limit the amount of barnacles in a given area. They are preyed upon by the mottled and purple sea stars and the red rock crab.
The snail can be found from Alaska to central California in inter tidal and shallow sub tidal rocky areas of Vancouver Island.
The Frilled Dogwinkle can be found in winter or early spring along the low tide line. Females that are four or more years old will lay many yellow eggs about a 1 cm long that they attached to rocks. They lay their eggs in a communal nursery. A female can lay up to 1,000 eggs per year. After a month or so the young snails hatch by piecing the egg case, only about 1 percent survive to 1 year old.
In the spring and summer months, yellow egg cases can be seen attached to substrate on stalks, some call these sea oats. The sexes are separated, the male has a penis and the sperm is place internally. After hatching, the larvae are free swimming.