Wednesday, April 22, 2020

S is for Singing Snails (Folktales of Endangered Species)

Welcome to the 2020 A to Z blogging challenge! This year my theme is Folktales of Endangered Species. I am researching cool traditional stories about rare, fascinating animals - to raise awareness of what we might lose if we don't get our collective shit together. Enjoy!

Partulina variabilis, image from here

Species: Lanai tree snail (Partulina semicarinata), Lanai tree snail (Partulina variabilis), Achatinellidae (tree snails)

Status: Endangered to Extinct

Kawelona and Lauka-ie-ie
Hawaiian legend

Lauka-ie-ie is a beautiful girl, raised by her aunt and uncle, who is friends with all the plants, flowers, and animals of her home in Waipio Valley. Her best friends are the singing sails; she sings along and plays with them every day. Lauka-ie-ie is protected by the goddess Hina-ulu-ohia, the red flowered ohia tree, who is also raising her brother.
When she grows up, Lauka-ie-ie sees a dream: she dreams of a handsome young chief whose face is bright like the setting sun. Her snail and plant friends all volunteer to set out to look for him together. They are aided in their search by the Wind, Lauka-ie-ie's brother, who carries the party from island to island, searching for the mysterious young chief.
Meanwhile, on the westernmost island of Kauai, young chief Kawelona also dreams about a beautiful young girl he's never seen. He sets out with the help of his friends, the iiwi birds (scarlet honeycreepers) to find her. The two traveling parties meet on the island of Lehua. They sail back to Waipio Valley on a white cloud and a giant shell, and throw an amazing wedding attended by all plants, kupua-spirits, gods, sharks in human form, and, of course, singing snails.
In some versions of the story Pupu-kani-oe, the singing snail, also falls in love along the way, and settles down on Oahu, only to return for the wedding along with her husband and daughters. 

Sources: Read the story here, here, here, or here. Read more about Hawaiian snails here.

How can I help?

Read about conservation efforts here, here, or here.

What plants and animals would you invite to your own wedding?

Image from here


  1. Sorry, but snails give me the creeps... Great story, though!

  2. Snail's are so fascinating! Beautiful shells, weird eye stalks, and hermaphroditic! I can say that as I have few in my current yard. I used to have a lawn across a path from thick succulents. As night the path was solid snails crossing! It was terrible! My daughter still hates snails as an adult! I wouldn't want snails at my wedding at all, not as guests, not as food.

  3. Those have beautiful shells! Well, maybe I shoudn't say it, but you know, we French people, we eat them ;)) (and frogs too!):D
    S is for Scherenschnitte

  4. I'm sad to know that they are endangered. Love reading the folktale. :)

  5. Beautiful, dreamy tale: like the idea of snail falling in love and settling down in the second version:)

  6. Very charming tale! I wonder if the singing snails formed a choir at the wedding? 🙂

  7. why is it endangered? How did that happen? Beautiful snail.

  8. A beauty indeed. Great to read a little bit about you. Wishing you the best in all your endeavors.


  9. Such a gentle, cosmically integrated myth. I notice there is very little violence in any of the myths you've shared, which should be a lesson to us that life can be beautiful if we just allow it to be.

  10. What a lovely feel-good tale - how wonderful to have all your friends in on helping you find true love. Bonus points for the snail falling in love as well.

    The snail photos are amazing. Although I've seen a slug once in my yard, I've never had a snail visitor that I know of.

  11. Awww, this is such a sweet story. I always love stories involving dreams and this has all the good feelings to it.

    The Old Shelter - Living the Twenties

  12. Sweet story :-) Cute snails!

    An A-Z of Faerie: Sirens