Fatal or Not

I had never before seen one on the reef, but I knew what it was immediately…

This thing could kill me!

It is odd to look at something so small and pretty and realize that it could be fatal to touch. There are three cone snails that feature a potentially lethal venom found on Hawaiian reefs, the textile cone (Conus textile), the banded marble cone (Conus bandanus), and the striated cone (Conus striatus oahuensis). All three feature similar markings, a sort of chevron pattern on the shell. I did not recall which one of the three I was looking at, but I knew it was one of them.

Then I see the legs.

Small red and yellow legs protrude from the shell, just barely visible underneath. No problem, the deadly snail is gone and something else has moved into the pretty shell. A hermit crab, appropriately enough a cone shell hermit crab.

With little to fear from a hermit crab I set the shell just so on the coral. I know that the crab will wait a few moments then emerge to right his shell, providing a perfect photo opportunity…

Cone Shell Hermit Crab
Cone shell hermit crab (Ciliopagurus strigatus) occupying the shell of a textile cone snail (Conus textile)

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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