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Return of the Snails

Artist: Ginney Deavoll


Media: Acrylic on Canvas
Framed: gallery Wrap
Size 115cm x 84cm

We saw many shells of Powelliphata or giant snails on the Heaphy Track, the only carnivorous snail in the world, whose habitat of choice is the north-west coast of the South Island. There are twenty one species, some of them adorned with beautifully patterned shells. The largest of them can grow to the size of a ‘Big Mac’ and weigh about as much as a mobile phone. They eat worms, which they slurp like spaghetti and live in leaf mould or under logs, only coming out at night to forage.

In 2006 the ‘Augustus’ snails were the cause of a major controversy at the Stockton Mine. The company was going to strip-mine the area, a process that would destroy the snails’ habitat. The Department of Conservation gave permission for them to be relocated. 1,500 were transported to a new home 800 metres away and a lucky sixty had radio transponders and antennae glued to their shells allowing them to be tracked and studied further.

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