It’s thought by some that all life came from the sea. From our humble roots as tiny fish, they say, every diverging branch of living beings on the planet blossomed. Some fish grew legs and walked out of the sea to become masters of land, while others stayed home and turned into clouds of tiny little cells so they can have strength in impossible numbers. This is the Origin of All Things, as its known to some scholars. And while some creatures became great in size, others great in numbers and more still become great in deed and achievement, some creatures never stood very tall nor ventured far from home, living simple lives within their comfort zones. One such creature is the humble sandsnail, a line of gentle gastropod that make their home along the sandy shores of temperate beaches where it’s neither too hot nor too cold and they’re never far from the sea.
Born in clutches of eggs buried in the gentle arms of the rolling tide, sandsnails lead a lackadaisical lifestyle inching along the edge of life’s cradle. Subsisting on a diet of kelp, dried leaves and fish carrion, sandsnails serve a useful ecological role as cleaners of debris that washes up from the sea or blows over from inland trees. Since they mostly live in the granular environment of the beach, sandsnails secrete a thick mucous from their singular foot to protect their soft bodies from drying out. While their lives are lazy, sandsnails don’t live outside the shadow of danger; being as delicious as they are plentiful, sandsnails are a common snack for large birds and shellfish. And while they can pull themselves inside their large spiral shell, sandsnails’ primary defense is to wriggle their bodies and hide in the sands, their eye stalks peeking out to watch for the passing of predators. And while this works well against simpler creatures, local sentients are not so easily fooled. In addition to being a ready source of protein, sandsnail mucous is an important component in many local waterbreathing potions, and those can fetch a higher price than even a dish of sauteed sandsnail, sausage and peppers served on a plate of pasta- a local favorite along some sunny shorelines.