Battle of the Butterfly Snails

Below: A sea angel, Clione limacina. Predator of the butterfly snail.


Clione limacina, the angel of the sea,

a dove-diving belle, her widely silken wings unfurled.

Alas! This is not the beauty you invite to tea,

though her fire does blossom rosily in a cold and distant world.

Limacina helicina, the flutter-hearted snail,

the butterfly which lights the black against the angler’s lure:

Fly with us! cry the gossamer swarms, the twilight life is hale

But stay away, I you conseil, from even beasts demure

as these. Avast! Here swoops the flame-thorned angel-horned ballerina,

One bright gulp, and she’s dined upon our fluttering helicina.

Would you be next, soft-bodied gazer, with your Latinized heart screaming,

or would you bury it in books, and leave the fairy-deep

to its own lone sea-dreaming?


Above: A butterfly snail, Limacina helicina antarctica.

Image credits in order of appearance:

By Kevin Raskoff. Credit: Hidden Ocean 2005 Expedition: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration. (NOAA Photo Library: expl0391) [CC BY 2.0 ( or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By R. Giesecke – Hunt B., Strugnell J., Bednarsek N., Linse K., Nelson R. J., Pakhomov E., Seibel B., Steinke D. & Würzberg L. (2010). “Poles Apart: The “Bipolar” Pteropod Species Limacina helicina Is Genetically Distinct Between the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans”. PLoS ONE 5(3): e9835. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009835., CC BY 2.5,


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