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Nucella lamellosa (Gmelin, 1791)
Dog Whelk; Frilled Dogwinkle; Wrinkled Dog Whelk
Family: Muricidae


© Derek Holzapfel     (Photo ID #16327)


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Distribution of Nucella lamellosa in British Columbia in British Columbia


The Wrinkled Dog Whelk is a species of sea snail (rock snail) that is found along the Pacific Coast from the Bering Strait, Alaska to California. In British Columbia, it is found along the entire coast (Gastropods.com 2011). This is a predatory species that feeds on bivalves, and is very variable in colour and appearance Yoshimoto 2011).

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.

View a large selection of photos of this species.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)

BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

General References