Turban Snails

Turban Snails (Tegula)

Contributed by Dr. Bonnie Becker

Where found:  Often congregate in the high intertidal in crevices or on the sides of boulders. Black turbans (Tegula funebralis) tend to dominate further upshore, while the brown turbans (T. brunnea) are more common lower down. Within species, tend to find larger animals lower on the shore.

Interesting facts:  Italian chefs serve Tegula cooked in oil and served in its shell. They are removed and eaten with a pin. This is a slow-growing, long-lived species that is susceptible to overharvesting. The bag limit for any invertebrate is 35 (as of 1984).

Adaptations:  Tegula are important prey species for predators including sea otters, octopuses, rock crabs, and sea stars. Tegula are able to sense chemicals that are released from some predators (sea stars and crabs) and flee towards shore in response. If the snail contacts a predator, they will attempt to flee with their tentacles swinging wildly.

Food:  Tegula eat many species of algae, which they scrape off the rocks with their radula.

Life history:  Juvenile T. funebralis live higher in the intertidal for the first 5 to 7 years of their lives. As they age, they slowly migrate downshore. Tegula can live to be 30 years old, if they can avoid their numerous predators.

Phylum:           Mollusca (Soft-bodied animals with external shells or modified internal shells)
Gastropoda (Snails, Limpets, Sea hares, Nudibranchs, etc.)
Archaeogastropoda (Limpets, Abalones, Turbans)
Trochacea (Top shells and Turbans)

Last revised 11-Jun-13