April 15,2020 | The Clarion
Arts & Life
Janthina hangs to a bubble
By Solomon Turner
This vivid purple snail is one of the great
seafarers of the animal kingdom and spends its
entire life hanging upside-down to a bubble raft.
Janthina janthina was first documented by Carl
Linnaeus in 1758 and has also been documented
as, according to The Darwin Foundation, a
gastropod often seen around the islands.
As snails are one of the most widely distributed
invertebrates in the world, they have adapted to
many unique environments and this one is no
exception. Janthina sp. is distributed globally
in waters of both tropical and temperate seas
and can be found in large groups on the ocean
or stranded on the beach, according to Atlantis
Diving and Australian Geographic.
According to Australian Geographic, these
snails are some of the largest members of the
Pleuston group, at 30-40 millimeters, and live
their entire lives in the pelagic zone, living on
the border between the sky and the sea. They
do this by creating a bubble raft.
Janthina sp. builds its bubble raft by secreting
a chitinous mucus that quickly hardens forming
■ . v** &
Courtesy of The Metro Met
Janthina janthina, a violet sea snail found in warm
waters around the world, spends its entire life
hanging upside down to a bubble “raft.”
a solid, yet fragile raft. This raft is then
attached to their foot where they spend their
lives completely upside-down. It goes without
saying then, if these fragile rafts are busted or
lost, the snail will sink into the ocean depths
The upside-down lifestyle they practice
is also tied to their unique coloration called
countercolor. This means that the dorsal (back)
and ventral (front) sides are colored differently
to match their environment. Janthina sp. does
this by having a light violet coloration on the
top of their shell, which is facing the ocean
depths, and a dark purple on their underside,
which is always facing the sky allowing them
to blend into both the sky and the sea.
While drifting around with the ocean currents,
these unique snails will feed mainly on the tiny
medusa of cnidaria, but since they are subject
to the whim of the ocean they aren’t picky
about their food. They will, if given the chance,
eat by-the-wind-sailors (Velella velella) and
Portuguese Man O’ War (Physalia physalis).
While also eating they are often eaten by fish,
birds, sea turtles, mollusks and nudibranchs,
according to Australian Geographic.
In their reproduction all Janthina sp. begin
their lives as males and only later switch to
being female later in life. Since males lack
a penis, they instead shoot the sperm in the
female’s general direction, like many aquatic
organisms. After fertilization, eggs are kept by
the female until they hatch, fully capable of
caring for themselves after which they make
their own bubble raft and set off on their own
voyage through the sea.
Storm causes damage, knocks out power
High winds and rain Sunday night and Monday morning wreaked
havoc on the Brevard College campus and around Transylvania
County, causing damage and power outages on lower campus,
including the Villages, that lasted until late Tuesday evening.
Among the damage on campus was an uprooted tree between the
tennis courts and Ross Hall (below and right). The flag pole in the
residential quad was also toppled (far right); a close up of the base
of the flag pole suggests the ferocity of the winds (bottom center).
The torrential rains and wind resulted in roughly half of 16,000
Duke Energy customers in Transylvania County losing power;
as of 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, more than 3,000 were still without
power. Rainfall amounts vary, but more than 5 inches of rain were
estimated in parts of Brevard.
The severe weather was part of a line of storms that swept
through the entire region, spawning tornadoes that killed at least
34, including nine people in South Carolina.