Every year at BioBlitz, National Geographic and the U.S. National Park Service rally to get people young and old to explore the wild spaces around them during a whirlwind 24-hour search to identify every species they can find. In advance of our next event in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, March 28-29, 2014, we’re already exploring stories of the life and lands of northern California. Learn More and Sign Up for BioBlitz 2014!!!
In this installment, National Geographic’s Caryl Sue, a California native, takes a poetic look at the banana slug (Ariolimax).
Listen, oh blitzers, to hear a story
Of a mollusk deserving of fame and glory
From Alaska to L.A. you’ll find this mug
I speak, of course, of the banana slug
. . .
At half-a-foot per minute, they’re not the fastest
In fact, they’re slower (and less sweet) than molasses
They’re also not glamorous, like their nudibranch kin
They’re yellow, and brown, like banana skins
Like most gastropods, they have “eyestalks” to see
And the tentacles below help sense chemistry
These sensory organs are required headgear
See, banana slugs have no ears to hear
With a sharp keel on top and a fringe “skirt” beneath
A mantle up front and a mouthful of teeth
They can breathe through their skin (cutaneous gas exchange)
Or through their one lung (pneumostome, not so strange)