These giant snails are named after the Greek god Triton – god of the sea. He would calm the seas by blowing on his shell. Ancient Hawaiians practiced the blowing of the pū to herald the arrival of ali‘i, the beginning of the Makahiki season and other notable occasions. When done properly, the sound can carry for miles across land and sea. Today the blowing of the pū can be heard at weddings, luau, and to signal the opening of a session of Hawai‘i legislature among other occassions.
The triton snail feeds primarily on other mollusks and sea stars. It is a primary predator of the crown-of-thorns sea star. It eats its prey by attaching itself with its strong mucular foot. Once attached it uses a toothy radula (serrated, scraping tool) to saw into the insides and inject a paralyzing poison.
photos courtesy Sandi Strickland