Channeled Whelk

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Channeled Whelk

Busycotypus canaliculatus 

Range/Geographical Distribution: Cape Cod to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

Habitat: Shallow waters including bays, beaches, and estuaries.

Description: A large, pear-shaped snail with a deep channel between the whorls.  Shells are gray to light tan and have darker brown/red banding.  The shell opens on the right side.

Size: Can reach eight inches in length.

Food: Bivalves including mussels, clams, and oysters.

Breeding: Channeled whelks lay egg cases attached to a string buried in the sand.  Each disc-like egg case can contain 30 eggs and each string will have many egg cases.  The eggs hatch inside the case and the tiny whelks are miniatures of the adults.  Some newly hatched whelks will be eaten by their siblings and then the remaining babies eat their way out of the capsule.

Predators: Sea turtles, and blue crabs.

Conservation Status: No legal status.  Has been introduced in California.

Interesting Facts: Native Americans used parts of these whelks for jewelry and money.

On the Coast: Channeled whelk shells can be found on Georgia’s beaches and many are occupied by hermit crabs.

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