Following the bleaching event of 2010 we experienced a large overpopulation of Drupella snails on our reefs around the Southern part of the island. Our group immediately began daily/weekly Drupella snail collections, spending over 1,700 diver hours to collect well over 10,000 snails. Additionally, we now do Drupella snail collections on most our dives, but rarely collect the data, we estimate that we have collected over 60,000 Drupella snails over the last 2 years. Recently we published a paper in the journal Coral Reefs along with Dr. Bert Hoeskema about our drupella snail findings that can be found here, or on our publications page.
For a long time it was thought that Drupella snails fed only on the Acropora, Pocilliopora, and Montipora corals, but in our studies we have found the Drupellas feeding on over 20 genera of corals. A study which we will be publishing in the near future.
But it’s not enough to only collect the snails, we are also trying to work with researchers from around the world to document the changes in populations and dietary preferences of our local Drupella Snails populations. To date, the literature has primarily focused on identifying unsustainable populations and their short and long term effects on reef health. Little or no information has been published to direct governments and other groups how to relieve or manage this problem. We have proposed that guidelines be established and removal techniques developed to guide governments and reef managers faced with loss of economies or ecosystems values in the face of the proliferation of Drupella snails and are working to write a manual to spread the knowledge to other local reef management groups.