08. Mud Snails

What are those little clumps of mud doing in the movie clip above? It looks like they're crawling along the creek bank. In reality, those clumps of mud are mud snails, and they're crawling along looking for food. If the mud snail smells a dead fish, it will slide over to it and start to eat. Mud snails are one of the first steps in the decomposer food chain of the salt marsh and begin the process of breaking down detritus into smaller particles. Without the decomposers, dead plants and animals would just pile up. Instead, the decomposers break down these big materials and release them back into the food chain as small molecules that the producers, the plants, can use.

Type
Detritus | The Salt Marsh
Detritus | The Salt Marsh

Photo

Detritus is the collection of dead stems of Spartina and other things that float. This combination of materials floats up in the marsh during high tides, and winds often drive it ashore, where it...
Mud Snail | The Salt Marsh
Mud Snail | The Salt Marsh

Video

The mud snail is black, with a very strong shell, and is about 1/2 inch in length. It is an effective scavenger and hundreds of snails will collect around a dead fish or shrimp bait until they...
Snowy Egret | The Salt Marsh
Snowy Egret | The Salt Marsh

Photo

Snowy egrets are smaller versions of the great egret. They have white feathers, black legs with yellow feet, and a black bill. Snowies sometimes wade slowly through shallow water, stirring the mud...