Page last updated at 20:31 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 21:31 UK

Cameras guard 'pearl' of a snail

Giant sea snail
Only a few snails contain pearls

A sea snail which could produce pearls valued at up to 30,000 is being closely guarded at Birmimgham's Sea Life Centre.

CCTV cameras are watching over the giant zebra snail, or Melo melo.

Curator Graham Burrows said the sea snail was about 20 times the size of its British equivalent.

He added the odds were against the snail having such an expensive pearls, but staff needed to watch out for potential kidnappers.

"The snail forms the pearl around any foreign object that gets inside its shell," he said.

"The biggest one recorded was the size of a golf-ball."

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