Mud Creepers are a common sight on the tidal mud flats at Cairns in Queensland, Australia. Also called Telescope Shells, Mudwhelks, Telescopic Creepers, or Mangrove Mud Whelk. The Latin name is Telescopium telescopium L. They are so emblematic of the place that they have been glorified by a fantastic piece of sculpture by Dominic Johns on the Esplanade.
The reality, however, is that this large gastropod marine mollusc – living on the glutinous muds exposed by the ebbing tide – is not the most attractive of seashore creatures, in fact, a bit creepy. It is dark in colour, about 6 inches long, and the shell is very thick and heavy, The protruding muscular foot and tubular siphon of the animal are hard to distinguish from the mud itself but I believe the flesh is edible.
This sea snail seems to struggle as it drags its weighty shell across the mud in strange irregular movements without the supporting medium of water. The furrows incidentally ploughed by the shells leave networks of trails on the mud. In life the shells are often caked with mud but empty shells washed up on the beach show there is actually a great striped pattern.
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