The Dog Winkle is an intertidal (high to low) predatory species of sea snail (rock snail) that is found mainly along the exposed coast of the Eastern Pacific from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska to San Luis Obispo County, California (Charbonneau 2002
). In British Columbia, there are RBCM collections from the waters around southern Vancouver Island. This is a species of rocky surfaces where mussels are abundant (Charbonneau 2002)
Few other intertidal invertebrates have excited as much research interest as whelks. Through their predatory interactions with mussels and barnacles, whelks can act as significant determinants of population and community structure throughout the entire intertidal region. There are 5 species of Nucella whelks distributed from Alaska to southern California (4 in BC), and several of these may co-occur on the same beach. Whelks attack a prey by first drilling a hole with its radula, then inserting a long prehensile proboscis with the mouth at the end, and feeding on the soft tissues within. Whelks have separate sexes and the females deposit leathery capsules within which the eggs develop to crawling juveniles. Shells of whelks are often heavy and may bear elaborate ornamentations, such as spines and flanges. The function of these ornamentations in defense, feeding, or whatever has been a topic of lively research interest. Shells of many species are coloured, sometimes in stripes, and the genetics of the inheritance of these has been studied.
Read about Nucella reproduction on A Snail's Osyssey.
Read about foods, feeding and growth in whelks and in the genus Nucella on A Snail's Odyssey.
Read about habitat and community ecology in whelks and in the genus Nucella on A Snail's Odyssey.
Read about the predators of whelks, including the genus Nucella on A Snail's Odyssey.
Note Author: Tom Carefoot, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia.
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