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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What are those pink blobs at Echo Park Lake?

Mystery blobs at Echo Park Lake/Martin Cox

That was the question after bubble-gum colored  blobs began appearing on posts and the new concrete retaining walls that line Echo Park Lake. Closer inspection revealed that the blobs were composed of much smaller  blobs.   Long-time park visitors like Martin Cox (who snapped the photo above) had never seen them before. “There are thousands and thousands of these egg like structures all over the poles, plants and walls of the lake,” he said. What are they?

The Eastsider turned to Jon Rasmussen, an aquatic plants expert who is working at the lake. His answer: Apple Snail eggs.

The Apple Snail, which is native to fresh water in tropical regions,  lay its eggs in what are called “clutches” above the water line to protect them from fish, according to Apple.Snail.Net  While Apple Snails are popular aquarium pets, they are considered unwanted, invasive species in some areas.   In fact, the Apple Snail has threatened the rice crop in California and Texas.

Let’s hope the Apple Snail don’t develop a taste for the Echo Park Lake lotus.

Apple snail eggs on concrete lake wall/The Eastsider

19 comments

  1. Thanks for getting them identified Jesus, this looks like a huge problem for the eco system, according to snail websites, these invasive species eat lotus and wetlands. There are thousands of these red blobs, and according to what I just read each one can produce between 100 and 300 snails!

  2. Sounds like EP Lake needs an snail injunction.

  3. While walking around the lake and wondering what these raspberry blobs were, i noticed quite a few large snails in the lake. Is Escargot a certain kind of snail? Perhaps we start a local, organic, grass (seaweed, sludge, lotus) fed escargot business and maintain a happy, working relationship with these beasts.

  4. Gross!!! Invasive snails are the worst!! I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

  5. Are they growing on there own? Where they planted on purpose?? If we see em should we remove em??
    Concerned”??

    • Like the (re)introduced turtles that appeared about three weeks ago, I’d bet the snails were put in by regular peeps.

      How to get rid is bad question, prob only way is to poison the waters. Or introduce a predator who eats (4″) snails, like 1/gators and crocs, 2/the French, 3/various Asian peeps, garlic and black bean sauce, you know.

      I’M KIDDING PEOPLE, RELAX.

  6. do the snails have a permit to lay they’re eggs there?

    disco stu dont advertise

  7. I work for Jon hahaha

    I try to save as much animals as I can but I always step on a poor snail.

  8. Koi fish eat snails. Even big snails.

  9. And ducks also eat snails.

  10. Snailification! There, I said it.

  11. ‘Snailification…Sailnado’ — bwahaha.

    Seriously, hv given the (coming) prob some thought: ducks and other avian life may go for eggs if they can get to them (when netting is removed). Some fish eat snails, perhaps koi, def the Lepomis auritus, or long-eared bluegill, also known as a ‘shellcracker’ for eating aquatic snails. They’d have to get to them when smaller than 3″ though.

    And if crews or public go after the egg masses (with sticks) that might put a dent into population; may knock them into water for fish to eat (once there are fish back in lake).

  12. If the fish stocking plan includes redear sunfish, they will make short work of the snails.

  13. L, we may both be off — think it’s a ‘long-eared sunfish.’

    Or may be another bluegill/sunfish species, like: “Pumpkinseed sunfish that live in waters with larger gastropods have larger mouths and associated muscles in order to crack the shells of the larger gastropods.”

  14. Are apple snails edible? We could do pest control that way!

  15. Greetings,
    My name is Romi Burks and I am an ecologist that studies these snails and their reproductive patterns. You can
    find more information about these snails from my website (currently in revision b/c it has grown a bit out of date but more scientific than applesnail.net…) or from the blog called SnailBusters. It is difficult to properly identify the snails from the pictures and specimens would go a long way towards that process.

    In terms of your questions, there is not much known about native predators and apple snails in North America. We expect that fishes with the right jaw structure such as sunfish or drum would be able to crunch them up to a certain size, turtles as well. In their native range, birds help control their population. The snails can be edible — although they take some culinary finesse. One should NEVER eat a snail raw b/c they can harbor parasites that make people sick. As I said, it is difficult to ID for sure from a photograph. There are two commonly invasive species of apple snails, Pomacea canaliculata and Pomacea maculata. The first lays eggs clutches with around a bit larger eggs (3 mm) which make up clutches of 200-400 total eggs and the second lays smaller eggs (2 mm) in egg clutches that often number in the 1000s of eggs. One will not likely see the eggs consumed b/c they are chemically defended.

    It would be helpful if I could actually see the eggs or snails.

    The best method for preservation is one that prevents the snail from sealing its shell with the trap door prior to being fixed. The best way to accomplish this is to place the snails in a container (with a lid) with just enough water to allow them to crawl around. Once they have acclimated and are crawling around. Pour enough boiling water over them so that all snails are covered by 4-5 cm of water. This should be done quickly so as to kill the snails before they have a chance to pull back into the shell. Only allow the snails to stay in hot water for 1-2 min at most. Remove from hot water and immediately place snails directly in >90% ethanol. Allow to cool in a refrigerator or at room temperature overnight. Check to make sure all snails are out of their shell, if not the trap door can be pulled out a bit to allow ethanol to penetrate into the shell. Alternatively, the shell can be cracked slightly or drilled (see picture). Change the ethanol once after 24 hours and again after another day.

    If killing with hot water is not possible, the alternative, but less effective method, is to prop open the operculum using something like a stick and to drill/crack a hole in the shell. Once this is done the snails are submerged in ethanol as above.

    Once they have been in ethanol for 3 days they are ready to be packed for shipping. To avoid shipping large volumes of ethanol the snails should be packed in plastic bags, or plastic jars with cotton or paper towels saturated in fresh ethanol. If using plastic bags it is best to wrap each individual snail in a couple of paper towels. Saturate each wrapped snail with ethanol and place them all inside a plastic bag. Make sure to triple bag the snails to avoid any alcohol leakage. Ensure that the snails and towels/cotton are saturated with alcohol. Place the jar(s) inside plastic bags and they should be ready to go. Place cotton or paper towels in the box with the bags to absorb any accidental leakage.

    If the snails are in plastic bags they should be packed in a box with plenty of padding to keep them from being crushed during shipping. If in plastic jars they can placed in a box with just enough padding to keep the bottle from bouncing around.

    They should be shipped regular air mail courier to the address below.
    Romi Burks
    Southwestern University
    Department of Biology
    1001 East University Avenue
    Georgetown, TX 78626

    I’m happy to also answer any questions.
    Phone: 512 – 863 – 1280

  16. Thanks for all info, but no thanks on pickling a snail and mailing, sorry. Contact me offboard and I will send pics of snails and egg clusters. flykuni@gmail.com

  17. I spotted two turtles about two months ago. As a fifty year plus resident I can tell you a couple of things. 1# there were no snails or turtles in the Lake and all the original Lotus were white not red or purple in the sixties and seventies when I fished there daily. There were sunfish,Bluegill.Catfish, and Trout in the winter. An occasional carp or goldfish were caught. The Island now locked up was a great place to fish and we would sometimes early in the morning see raccoons,skunks and even coyotes. Often they were eating things from the lake .probably snails and turtles. The birds could not nest and overproduce like I saw before the draining of the lake. Geese did not imprint on mopeds and fly around after them. Closing the island has resulted in the change as it is now a refuge for all the invasive species that have always been dumped but were soon kept in check by the natural predation including human. The red eared slider turtle must nest on land and with the island open they would be quickly taken. Why is the island closed it was an original feature unlocked and open 24hours a day. Better to open the Island which we called Tom Sawyer Island landscaped as originally as possible than spending tens of thousands painting boathouses. I believe that between the turtles,snails and possibly some birds that the lotus are doomed unless the original ecosystem is restored. Lets see it worked well untill the first remodel and the closing of the island for almost a half century. It is like Angels Flight which never had an accident or missed a day of service untill it was moved and remodeled to make it”SAFER” . Now we may never see it again! Is this the fate of our beloved Lotus . Or will we spend thousands of dollars replanting,poisoning, and whatever on “IMPOVEMENTS” when the original plans worked best.. Maybe we need to occupy Tom Sawyer Island and save the place for future generations to fish and play!

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