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Phylum Mollusca > Class Gastropoda > Family Volutidae
Baler volute
Melo melo
Family Volutidae
updated Sep 2020

if you learn only 3 things about it ...
It is very rarely seen!
It is carnivorous. Its prey include smaller snails living beneath the sand.
It is threatened by over-collection as food and for it shell.

Where seen? This magnificent large snail sometimes seen on our Northern shores and is more common on undisturbed shores. It is usually found on muddy bottoms, near mangroves and seagrasses. It is also called the Indian volute.

Features: 15-20cm. Shell is rather thin and quite fragile for such a large snail. Colour beige to orange, sometimes with brown bands, others without any distinct markings. No operculum. Body huge fleshy, brown with white stripes, a large foot which is plain and pale on the underside. It has a pair of slender tentacles, a long siphon that sticks out of the notch at the front of the shell, and a long proboscis, both banded brown and white.

Beting Bronok, Jun 06

Beting Bronok, Aug 05
What does it eat? This predator and hunts other snails, moving about on the surface. Like other volutes, it uses its large foot to enclose the prey. So far, we have seen them eating Noble volutes and also Gong-gong snail.

Baler snail eating a Noble volute!
Beting Bronok, Jun 14

Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Baler snail eating a Noble volute!
Chek Jawa, Jun 10

Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her blog.
Volute babies: In members of the Famliy Volutidae, the male fertilises the female internally. There is no free-swimming larval stage and crawling juvenile snails emerge from the egg. As a result, volutes have a restricted range and local populations can be wiped out by over-collection.

A much smaller one riding on the
back of a bigger one. Prelude to mating?

Beting Bronok, Jun 10

Small juvenile snail.
Beting Bronok, Jul 08
Human uses: This snail is collected for food even, sadly, on Singapore shores. Elsewhere, the empty shell is used elsewhere to bail out water from 'sampans' (little boats used by fishermen), also to measure out sugar, salt and flour in local markets.

"Pearls" may form inside this snail when something enters the snail's shell and gets covered by shell material. The "pearl" is not lustrous as it contains no nacre, but are usually very round and can be as large as a golf ball. The colours of the "pearl" tend to fade over time so they are not considered precious gems.

Status and threats: The Baler volute is listed as 'Endangered' in the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore due to habitat loss. Also threatened by indiscriminate fishing with nets. It is also eaten. Wildfilms had an encounter with a collector who took one from Changi to eat. The 1994 Red Data Book of Singapore states "Thought to have been exterminated from our water, but a recent isolated sighting confirms their continued presence".

Baler volutes on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores


'Face' of the Baler snail!
Changi, May 11

Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Changi, Jun 09

Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.


Changi, Aug 12

Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Changi, Sep 10
Photo shared by Neo Mei Lin on her blog.

Changi, Aug 18

Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.


Eating a Gong-gong snail?
Beting Bronok, Jul 08

Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Beting Bronok, Jun 21

Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.


Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, Jun 15

Photo shared by Heng Pei Yan on facebook.

East Coast Park, Sep 18

Photo shared by Dayna Cheah on facebook.

East Coast Park, Jul 20

Photo shared by Richard Kuah on facebook.

Links

References

  • Spencer Yau Jia Ming & Low Si Hui. 31 August 2020. Baler volute at Changi Beach. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2020:113-114 ISSN 2345-7597
  • Tan Siong Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary Checklist of The Molluscs of Singapore (pdf), Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore.
  • Tan, K. S. & L. M. Chou, 2000. A Guide to the Common Seashells of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp.
  • Ng, P. K. L. & Y. C. Wee, 1994. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened Plants and Animals of Singapore. The Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore. 343 pp.
  • Davison, G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore). 285 pp.
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