Mon October 17, 2011
Big, slow and hungry
By A Treasure Coast Essay
Fort Pierce, FL – Question: What is the size of a softball, moves very slowly and is endangering the eco-system on the Treasure Coast? Answer: the channeled apple snail. It has not received the attention given to the Miami area's giant African snail, which can damage stucco on houses and carries a parasitic worm that causes meningitis in human beings. But the channeled apple snails still cause problems by disrupting the food chain. They gobble up aquatic plants, denying them to the much smaller Florida apple snail and other creatures, which in turn are eaten by small fish, which in turn are eaten by larger fish. An already endangered bird called the snail kite feeds on the native apple snail but not the channeled apple snail and thus can go hungry. Channeled apple snails were introduced to this area 5 to 7 years ago, maybe by owners of aquariums after they became too big. They live in waters in rural areas. You can see clusters of their pink eggs in canals in western St. Lucie County. Do channeled apple snails make a yummy escargot? I would not try it. They may carry a parasite that can cause heart disease in us. Besides, who wants to eat escargot as big as a softball? For 88.9 FM, this is Paul Janensch.
Treasure Coast essayist was a newspaper editor and taught journalism at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.