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  • José H. Leal

A Critically Endangered Snail

Achatinella mustelina, is a rare species of Hawaiian tree snail currently classified as “critically endangered” in the Red List published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The 20 mm (about 3/4 inch), left-handed (!) snail is one of the few surviving species of native land snails in Oahu. Hundreds of species of endemic (unique to the area) Hawaiian land snails were preyed upon to their extinction after the mid-20th century deliberate introduction of the snail-eating Rosy Wolf Snail, Euglandina rosea. The Rosy Wolf Snail was brought from Florida to the Hawaiian Islands in the mid-20th century, in a failed and disastrous attempt to eradicate the invasive Giant African Snail, Lissachatina fulica. I shot the photo below near the summit of Mount Ka’ala, highest point on the island of Oahu, Hawai'i. That was a special field visit led by Dr. Norine Yeung (Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu), during the 2018 meeting of the American Malacological Society.


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