The whelk uses its radula (a tongue-like feature with rows of teeth) to bore a hole into the shell of its prey to reach the protected flesh. It then sucks out the flesh.


  • A whelk is generally light gray to tan, often having brown and white streaks.
  • The thick-lipped, spiral shell has an uneven surface with many protrusions. The shell coils in a right-hand direction and has a long siphonal canal.
  • The shape of the whelk depends on the waves that impact the creature.
  • The whelk has a large, muscular foot with which it holds its victim.

Fun Facts

  • The color of the whelk depends on the foods that it eats.
  • Whelk egg masses, resembling clumps of puffed rice, are commonly found on beaches in early summer.
  • The whelk is one of the most common rocky-shore gastropods in temperate regions.

CLASS: Gastropoda (gastropods, slugs, and snails)
ORDER: Sorbeoconcha
FAMILY: Muricidae, Buccinidae, and Melongenidae
SPECIES: About 15 species

Size: From 1 in (2.5 cm) up to 16 in (41 cm)
Depth: Up to 160 ft (48 m)
Diet: Oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops
Habitat: Rocky shores of northwestern and northeastern Atlantic coasts