What I think you are referring to is the trail of a moon snail, or sometimes called a sand snail. This univalve animal has a cinnamon bun swirled shell. The shell is extremely thick to protect itself from the ocean and other animals that may try to eat it.
If you try to pick it up – the animal will resist because of its suction like muscled foot planted in the sand. The snail has that muscled foot which makes it glide quickly through the sand. If you do pick it up and feel resistance – it is ok, the animal will “close its door” – or operculum – and hold in water and nutrients. And, of course, you will put it back right where you found it? Now, it you see some colored legs poking out – that’s a hermit crab. They may pinch – so put it back – quickly. Hermit crabs make their homes out of shells that are no longer homes to other animals…
Lastly, this is type of snail is the one that has the radula which drills into clam shells.
Do you have another great question? Check out www.beachchairscientist.com and let us know what you always ponder while digging your toes in the sand!