The inter-tidal zone, the area of the beach that is revealed when the tide goes out, stretches for a kilometer in Parksville, BC.

We spent a week at Madrona Beach Resort, right on the waters edge. While wandering on the beach when the tide is at its lowest, I found the sand is full of mysteries. One intriguing find were odd broken rings. I picked one up, thinking it was perhaps garbage, it was rubbery and smooth, yet clearly made of sand. It held together very well.

There were quite a few of these strange broken objects. . I found that they could be made into a full circle. Very Curious indeed.

When I returned to the condo, I looked up these strange collars on the internet.

It turns out these are produced when the Moon Snails lay their eggs. A “nest” in a strange way.

Here is what I found:

“Moon snails reproduce sexually in the sand and the female produces eggs that will be encased in gelatin-like sand collar or coil that feels like it could be plastic, but not quite. In preparation for laying her eggs, a female moon snail will first use mucus to adhere grains of sand together around her shell in a flexible and gelatin-like curl. This curl will surround her body and looks a bit like a sculpture.

She then uses her cilia to disperse her thousands of eggs between herself and the sand collar. Once she has done this, she produces a second flexible sand and mucus layer that she will use to protect her eggs by sandwiching them between the two layers.

The egg casing is left in the sand and the female moves on to continue to eat and grow larger; most females can live up to 14 years. The eggs will hatch mid-summer into free-swimming veliger larvae; veliger larvae are planktonic larva of many kinds of sea snails and freshwater snails, including most clams. Once the eggs hatch, the sand collar becomes hard and brittle and then as a result eventually disintegrates.”

If you encounter one of these weird looking egg casings, you can explain to your friends and family that they are actually the egg casing of the Moon snail.