Upper Newport Bay (off Back Bay Science Center Dock), Newport Beach, Orange County, CA. 5/4/13. © Peter J. Bryant and Taylor Sais. Video.

Veliger larvae



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Upper Newport Bay (at Pearson's Port), Newport Beach, Orange County, CA. 5/4/13. © Peter J. Bryant and Taylor Sais. Video

Off Newport Pier, Newport Beach, Orange County, CA. 11/7/13. © Peter J. Bryant and Taylor Sais. Video

"Ballad of the Veliger", or "How the Gastropod got its Twist"

by Walter Garstang, 1928

The Veliger's a lively tar, the liveliest afloat,
A whirling wheel on either side propels his little boat;
But when the danger signal warns his bustling submarine,
He stops the engine, shuts the port, and drops below unseen.

He's witnessed several changes in pelagic motor-craft;
The first he sailed was just a tub, with a tiny cabin aft.
An Archi-mollusk fashioned it, according to his kind -
He'd always stowed his gills and things in a mantle-sac behind.

Young Archi-mollusks went to sea with nothing but a velum -
A sort of autocycling hoop, instead of pram - to wheel 'em;
And, spinning round, they one by one acquired parental features,
A shell above, a foot below - the queerest little creatures.

But when by chance they brushed against their neighbours in the briny,
Coelenterates with stinging threads and Arthropods so spiny,
By one weak spot betrayed, alas, they fell an easy prey -
Their soft preoral lobes in front could not be tucked away!

Their feet, you see, amidships, next the cuddy-hole abaft,
Drew in at once, and left their heads exposed to every shaft.
So Archi-mollusks dwindled, and the race was sinking fast,
When by the merest accident salvation came at last.

A fleet of fry turned out one day, eventful in the sequel,
Whose head-and-foot retractors on the two sides were unequal:
Their starboard halliards fixed astern ran only to the head,
While those aport were set abeam and served the foot instead.

Predaceous foes, still drifting by in numbers unabated,
Were baffled now by tactics which their dining plans frustrated.
Their prey upon alarm collapsed, but promptly turned about,
With tender morsel safe within and the horny foot without!