The "tsunami break:" impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the accompanying tsunamis on the shell growth of the invasive clam-eating snail Laguncula pulchella.
The Great East Japan Earthquake and accompanying tsunamis occurred on 11 March 2011, causing huge damage to marine organisms. The invasive naticid gastropod Laguncula pulchella (Euspira fortunei), which was introduced with the imported clam Ruditapes philippinarum from China and Korea, survived the earthquake. The "growth break line" observed on the shell surface in over 90% of the individuals collected in Matsushima Bay and Matsukawa-ura Lagoon after the tsunamis was examined by scanning electron microscopy. Each shell presented three layers before and three after the growth break. However, the fracture surface consisted of five layers - two prismatic and three crossed lamellar - around the growth break line. This suggests that shell formation temporarily ceased following the tsunamis and that the five-layered shell may have developed in response to the stress caused by the tsunamis. The newly formed middle layer became thinner after the "tsunami break," which may be the result of a rapid change in the mineralization process, including rapid shell growth and/or repair. These results suggest that the damage to and forcible removal of habitats by the tsunamis was stressful for L. pulchella. A decrease in or the cessation of shell formation after a tsunami may be a common phenomenon in mollusks that inhabit tidal flats.