Wild Harris

Dog Whelk

Link to Rocky Shore Animals

Although at first glance similar in appearance to a winkle, the dogwhelk is a very different kind of sea snail. It has a much thicker shell which protects it when tumbling about in rough seas, and like all whelks it has a groove at the front of its shell which its breathing syphon fits into. The main difference however is its carnivorous diet. The radula (ÔtongueÕ) of the dogwhelk is formed into a kind of drill, which it uses to bore through the shells of other shellfish such as mussels or barnacles. Once it has broken through it uses its radula to scrape the victim out of its shell and eat it. If you find a mussel shell with a neat hole drilled through it, the chances are this was killed by a dogwhelk. (A similar feeding method is used in the necklace shell, whose victims are often seen.

dogwhelks with eggs.jpgDogwhelks    (Photo: Sue Scott)

Dogwhelks seen together with their eggs. You will often find these eggs attached to the underside of small rocks on the shore. 

by Paul Tyler

Link to Rocky Shore Animals