I’ve Seen That – Flamingo Tongue
The beautiful flamingo tongue (Cyphoma gibbosum) is a marine snail that belongs to the class Gastropoda and is related to terrestrial animals such as garden snails and slugs. They’re relatively easy to find in the Caribbean surrounding the Cayman Islands.
The Flamingo Tongue:
- Secretes a mucus layer of chemicals through their radula or “foot,” helping to break down food into edible nutrients.
- Feeds on toxic soft corals such as the sea rod in the photo.
- Gets its striking colored mantle from these toxins that build up in their bodies.
- Is really light pink. The beautiful spots seen on the shell are part of its mantle and disappear when the animal dies.
- Is preyed upon by hogfish, pufferfishes, and Caribbean spiny lobsters who feed on the soft inner body.
Learn more about the marine environment from Katie Correia, Science Programme Coordinator at Central Caribbean Marine Institute, Little Cayman Research Center. For more info on the CCMI, visit www.reefresearch.org.