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  • Writer's pictureAustin Pugh

Meet the Critters: Black Turban Snail

Diet: Algae and organic Debris

Habitat: Rocky intertidal

Predators: Crabs, Octopuses, sea stars, seagulls, and sea otters

OA Impact: Ocean acidification has been found to have a negative impact on calcification in this species.

Geographic Distribution: North end of Vancouver Island, British Columbia (51°N), to San Geronimo Island, Baja California (30°N). Restricted to the mid-intertidal zone.

4 Tegula funebralis are clustered in a small pool of water under some sea weed during low tide
Tegula funebralis staying moist at low tide

The black turban snail is an extremely common species found along the western coast of North America. They have been an important part of the coastal ecosystem and culture for thousands of years; archeologists find their shells in abundance in shell middens, indicating that they were part of the diet of indigenous peoples living in the area. Because of their abundance and their reaction to ocean acidification black turban snails are often a study organism for OA studies in Canada (such as Barclay et. al 2019).

Black turban snails can live up to 30 years with their shell growth slowing over the course of their lives. They typically crawl at speeds of 0.6 to 0.8 mm/second but if they detect a predator they can almost double the speed that they can travel. The shell consists of an outer layer of calcite and an inner layer of mother of pearl (nacreous aragonite). Over their life the top whorl of their shell becomes worn down exposing the mother of pearl and creating a shiny white circle.

Check out the distribution of black turban snails on our Map of Canada's OA Resources by clicking here!

Many samples of Tegula funebralis shells lie in a box and on a table
Tegula funebralis samples which show variance in size over aged and cross sections. Photo from: Naturalis Biodiversity Center/Wikimedia Commons

Linnaean Classification:

A black turban snail climbing to the top of a rock is struck by a beam of sunlight
Tegula funebralis exposed on a intertidal rock on Vancouver Island during low tide

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Mollusca

Class: Gastropoda

Subclass: Vetigastropoda

Order: Trochida

Superfamily: Trochoidea

Family: Tegulidae

Genus: Tegula

Species: funebralis

Etymology: (Tegula) Tiles, (funebralis) Funereal/Somber

Common Names: Black Turban Snail

Past Names: Chlorostoma funebralis (A. Adams, 1855)


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