When you think of apex predators, what animal first comes to mind? Lions? Tigers? Bears? Sharks? Crocodiles? Well, what about snails? Snails seem like innocent, harmless creatures, but quite a few species can be rather frightening. One of these scary super-snails is the massive horse conch.
Roaming American waters from the U.S. state of North Carolina to the Yucatán Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico, these gastropods are carnivorous, and they primarily feed on other snails. Below, a horse conch chases down a frantic tulip snail, quickly capturing and devouring it.
Despite the tulip snail’s unfortunate fate, the small marine snail’s life does not go without purpose. As the sated horse conch prepares to release the tulip snail’s empty shell, a horde of hermit crabs gathers around the empty shell and fight for dibs. Before the conch even releases the shell, one overly eager crab jumps inside, drops to the sand, and scuttles away. If hermit crabs could speak this one would probably have said, “Booyah, suckers!”.
Below, you can watch the full video of this fascinating underwater exchange. Between the horse conch eating the tulip snail and the hermit crab beating out the other hermit crabs for the empty snail shell, nature’s winners and losers are easy to observe.