The Black-foot Slipper Snail
Although the shells from Southwest Florida, as a group, are probably among the best known in the world, there have been a few local species described in relatively recent years, and more are yet to be discovered and named. One of these newcomers is the Black-foot Slipper Snail, Crepidula atrasolea, described in 2000 by Dr. Rachel Collin, now Director of the Smithsonian’s Bocas del Toro Research Station in Panama. In 1997, as a University of Chicago Ph.D. student, Dr. Collin visited Sanibel under the auspices of The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. On that occasion, she collected flat, White Slipper Snails; which samples included not only the already known depressed Slipper Snail, Crepidula depressa Say, 1822, but also what turned out to be the new species. Both the Depressed and the Black-foot Slipper Snails have white, flat shells, and live adhering to larger shells such as the Lightning Whelk and Pen Shells. One of the main differences that distinguish the Black-foot Slipper, however, is the much darker foot and general body coloration (in Latin, atra = black, solea = foot sole). Other differences are found at the anatomical and genetic levels.
Different views of the local Black-foot Slipper Snail. Photos by José H. Leal.