The endemic snails of Hawai`i are beautiful. Small beautiful gentle creatures. Patient, defenseless. They evolved without predators and thus, without defenses. Only now are the snails confronted with rats, cannibal snails, flatworms and habitat destruction.
The cannibal snails are the worst. Gross. They will even eat each other. My job is to raise and breed the Hawaiian snails in a lab until there are safe places to release them into the wild (so far 30 years and counting). I also help design spaces to release them and map suitable habitat where we should look for more. I just really love my job.
In the lab I refer to them as “the kids”. I have to make sure they are cleaned and fed on a regular basis and they repay me by doing cute stuff...riding on each other, cleaning their shells, climbing all over the place. It's not like that movie “Delicatessen” where the guy lives in a dank drippy wet basement. The kids live in little snailariums inside modified refrigerators.
Recently, I went to Lana`i with some other snailers to check on some snails that were last seen in 1994. There was good news and less encouraging news, but there is always hope.
Here's a cutie..
Here's a really nice shot... (these are all my thumb, by the way)
One of the coolest things that happened was when my boss, on day 3, when we were all beat to shit, had it in his mind to find the mysterious ridge with the “blonde” snails.
The boys (Kevin and Bjorn) were busy being fast-tracking 26yos and had little patience for the boss's potentially wet dream. So I went. One because I love my boss and two because he should not be hiking in dangerous terrain alone as an almost 70 yo man.
So we charged through some pretty nasty terrain (me first) and had to back track a few times to find the right ridge. Then we hiked down several hundred meters until we got to good habitat and we started looking. We were both kind of regrouping and making small talk.
Then I said “Hey, look, two blondes”.