Wavy Turban Snail

The Science

The shells of wavy turban snails are used to make buttons!

The Fishery

Archaeological evidence suggests that native peoples fished wavy turban snail prior to European and Asian settlement in California!

The Seafood

The wavy turban snail’s meat is similar in taste and texture to abalone, which is why it is sometimes processed and sold as “wavalone”!

The Science

Wavy Turban Snail
sykospark/CC BY-NC 4.0

Taxonomic description

  • Shell’s color of sun-ripened apricots, has longitudinal white stripes on carapace and distinctive white spots on sides of first and fifth abdominal segments [1,2]
  • Pereopods and antennae banded dark red & lighter red or white [2]
  • 5 pairs swimming legs (pleopods), 5 pairs walking legs (pereopods) [2]
  • 2nd pair pereopods—left one is longer than right one [2]
  • Juveniles may be red, brown, or green [2]
  • Abdomen smooth and shiny
  • Transitionals become females averaging 1.75 inches (44 millimeters) [1]
  • Grows 15-27cm in size [2]
  • Max observed age is roughly over 6 years [1]

Distribution

  • Northeast Pacific from SD, CA to Unalaska Island, Alaska & Sea of Japan to Korean Strait [1,2]

Life history

  • Adults migrate through water column to feed at night from depths of up to 1,500 ft 
  • Spot prawns start off as males during the first few years of life and then change to females [2]
  • Migrate seasonally to breed [2]
  • Breed in late October & hatch March or April [2]
  • Males live up to 4-5 years, females die after brooding eggs [2]

Habitat

  • Deep cold water [2]
  • Rocky habitats along seafloor from intertidal zone to depths greater than 400m [2]
  • Nighttime vertical migration to shallower waters to find prey, return to deeper water at sunrise [2]
  • Feeds on worms, algae, small mollusks, sponges, shrimp & scavenges dead

The Fishery

turban_snail
Linda Tsoi

Seasonal availability

  • Available year-round [6]

Managing authority

  • Regulated by the California Fish and Wildlife Department under the Invertebrate Management Project [3]
  • Commercial tidal invertebrate regulations prohibit harvest of any snail species within 1,000 feet of low tide mark on shore [3,5]
  • Simply need a valid California commercial fishing license to harvest the snails [5]

Gear type

Typically harvested by divers [5,7]

  • Divers use handheld tools and net bags to collect the snails, gear which is identical to that used to collect red sea urchins [5,6]
  • Snails are hand-picked by divers, resulting in very little (or no) bycatch [6]
  • Divers make little contact with the seafloor [6]

Status of the fishery

  • Recorded landings began in 1992, with overseas markets for the meat and the shell [5]
  • Landings peaked in 1993, but crashed in 1994 after market demand plummeted; landings continued to fluctuate from 1995-97, and peaked again in 1998 [5]
  • Fishery centered in San Diego, with most landings coming from Point Loma [5]

Potential ecosystem impacts

  • Because wavy turban snails are hand-picked by divers, the fishery is at low risk for bycatch [6]
  • Wavy turban snails are abundantly available and have a high productivity rate, so over-harvesting is less likely [4]
  • El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events seem to trigger recruitment, and increase mortality of larger individual turban snails; this suggests that knowledge of ENSO will be helpful in setting harvest quotas in the future [8]
  • Impacts of harvesting wavy turban snails may cascade upward to their predators, like the giant-spined sea star (P. gigantus) [8]

The Seafood

wavy_turban_recipe
kelpmonkey, spearboard.com

Edible portions

  • Current market demand is for the foot [14]
  • The operculum should be removed [10]
  • The snail’s intestines are bitter in taste, and are sometimes eaten, sometimes removed [10.11]

Description of meat

  • Has an abalone-like texture and taste; foot of the snail is processed and sold to restaurants as an abalone-like product, “wavalone” [11,14]

Culinary uses

  • Most recipes for abalone and sea snails can be adapted to the wavy turban snail
  • Wavy turban snails can be prepared many ways: grilled, sautéed, battered and fried, in pastas, in chowders and soups, and in stir fries [12]

Nutritional information 

  • Turban snail, raw [9,13]

Toxicity report

  • There are no known contaminants

Seasonal availability

  • Available year-round in San Diego

References

[1] Taniguchi, Ian, and Laura Rogers-Bennet, California Department of Fish and Game. 2001. California’s Living Marine Resources: A Status Report, pgs. 140-41. Available: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=34371

[2] NOAA Encyclopedia of the Sanctuaries. “Wavy Turban Snail.” Available: http://www8.nos.noaa.gov/onms/Park/Parks/SpeciesCard.aspx?refID=4&Creatu...

[3] California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2015. Invertebrate Management Project. Available: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Invertebrates    

[4] Micheli, F., et al. 2014. A risk-based framework for assessing the cumulative impact of multiple fisheries. Biological Conservation 176: 224-235. Available: http://micheli.stanford.edu/pdf/a%20risk%20based%20framework.pdf

[5] Taniguchi, Ian, and Laura Rogers-Bennet, California Department of Fish and Game. 2001. California’s Living Marine Resources: A Status Report, pgs. 140-41. Available: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=34371

[6] Tuna Harbor Dockside Market. 2015. Gear. Available: http://thdocksidemarket.com/new/index.html#gear

[7] Tuna Harbor Dockside Market. 2015. Species. Available: http://thdocksidemarket.com/new/#species

[8] Zacharias, Mark, and David J. Kushner. 2006. “Sea temperature and wave height as predictors of population size structure and density of Megastraea (Lithopoma) undosa: Implications for fishery management.” Bulletin of Marine Science 79.1: 71-82.

[9] CalorieSlism. 2015. “Turban Shell (Sazae)”. http://slism.com/calorie/110295/#foodDataDetail

[10] Dong, Michael. “How To: Wavy Top ‘Turban’ Snails.” Spearboard.com. Available: http://www.spearboard.com/showthread.php?t=99314 

[11] “Grilled Sea Snails: Sazae no Tsubuyaki.” Oh My Omiyage, blog. Available: https://ohmyomiyage.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/grilled-sea-snails-sazae-no...

[12] Monterey Abalone Company. “Abalone Recipes.” Available: http://montereyabalone.com/recipes2.htm#Saut%E9ed_Abalone 

[13] SELF nutrition data. 2013.  “Mollusks, snail, raw”. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/7742/2 

[16] Taniguchi, Ian, and Laura Rogers-Bennet, California Department of Fish and Game. 2001. California’s Living Marine Resources: A Status Report, pgs. 140-41. Available: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=34371