The Dog Whelk Sea Snail (Nucella lapillus) is a marine (saltwater) mollusc gastropod in the Muricidae family of rock sea snails. It is also called the Atlantic Dogwinkle.
The Dog Whelk is usually whitish-grey, but it can be a variety of colours, such as orange, yellow, brown, black, or banded. It has a hard, external shell, called an exo-skeleton, that is smooth with a pointed spire. It has a short, straight siphon canal. The shell shape varies, depending upon the tidal waves, but it is usually rounded and spirally corded. Most of its body is made of whorls. The aperture (hole or lip) is quite wide.
The Dog Whelk, like other Sea Snails, has a single auricle (chamber) in its heart, and a single pair of gill slits for breathing.
It grows to about 12 centimetres (5 inches) in length.
It is found along the coasts of Europe and the north-western Atltantic coast of North America. It likes estuarine waters with rocky shores.
It lives underwater (it is aquatic) and it can only survive for a short period of time out of water because it dries out.
The Dog Whelk is carnivorous, eating mussels and barnacles. Its predators include birds and crabs.
Location of photographs: Aquarium de Paris-Cinéaqua, France
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM