Moon Snail     Euspira lewisii

This is the largest snail you will almost never see.  The Moon Snail shell can be up to 5 inches long with the meaty part expanding out another 6 inches. Usually it is under the intertidal beach sand hunting for clams and is seldom seen on the surface. It is a common inhabitant of sandy and muddy sand beaches and the subtidal zone to around 600 ft.  They range from Alaska to northern Mexico.

The second photograph shows evidence you may commonly find on the beach that indicates the presence of an active snail population.  Seagulls capture the snail, remove the meat and leave the large shell behind.  A clam shell with a small round hole shows where a Moon Snail as attacked with its raspy tongue eating out the flesh.  Finally you may find rubbery "sand collars" at low tide.  These are the egg cases of the Moon Snail.  The eggs are mixed with sand as the snail twirls out a ribbon of mucus from its foot.

If you are fortunate enough to find a live snail and pull it from the sand, watch as it quickly moves back into the protection of its shell.  In doing so it has to rid its body of lots of water from pores along its foot and the result is a gushing animal.