learn only 3 things about them ...
tiny snails are scavengers. When you see a dead thing,
look for them!
siphon of a whelk can be as long as its body.
Sometimes, a tiny sea anemone hitches a ride on the shell
of a living whelk.
Where seen? Whelks are commonly seen on many of our shores.
On sandy or muddy shores and among seagrasses. Most whelks live in
shallow waters, often in large groups. They are sometimes also called
Nassa mud snails or Dog whelks. These small snails are among the busiest
creatures you might come across at low tide, as they try to beat one
another to any fresh dead animals left on the shore. When not foraging,
whelks hide in the sand.
Features: About 2cm. Whelks have
tough thick shells. They have a long siphon and a large organ near
the siphon (called the osphradium) that are used to detect chemicals
released by dead animals. The fleshy siphon is extended out of a little
notch in the tip of the shell. The siphon of a whelk can be as long
as its body! They also use the long siphon to breathe as they burrow
in the sand. They have long slender tentacles bearing eyes, and the
back of the large foot has a pair of tentacles. Whelks can also drill
a large barnacle on the shell.
Changi, May 08
beneath the sand
with siphon sticking out.
Changi, Aug 05
|Whelk food: Whelks are active
scavengers and often seen busily foraging in pools at the change of
the tides. A choice morsel such as a dead crab or fish is a magnet
for these snails which hurry as fast as they can to the feast. They
have been described as "extremely bold and agile".
Whelk friends: Often, a tiny
sea anemone hitches a ride on the shell of a whelk! The anemone
probably benefits from the whelk's left overs, and avoids being permanently
buried in the sediments. It is not certain if the whelk gets anything
in return. Barnacles may sometimes also be found on the shells of large living whelks.
Human uses: Although abundant,
they are not much collected. Locally, they may be used as food or
bait, and the shells sometimes used for shell craft.
Whelks cleaning out a recently dead snail
while a hermit crab waits patiently.
Tanah Merah, Feb 07
Whelk Joy! Dead fish!
Chek Jawa, Sep 03
A small fish all to itself.
Sisters Island, Jan 10
on Singapore shores
whelks on Singapore shores
Nassariidae recorded for Singapore
Tan Siong Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary Checklist
of The Molluscs of Singapore.
+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Records, etc)
Nassarius echinatus (Prickly whelk)
Nassarius jacksonianus (Mud
Nassarius limnaeiformis (Speckled
Nassarius livescens (Common
Nassarius luridus=^Nassarius graphiterus
Nassarius olivaceus (Olive whelk)
Nassarius pauperus=^Nassarius pauper
Nassarius pullus (Black whelk)
Nassarius teretiusculus (Lined whelk)
- Ng Hiong Eng & Chan Sow Yan. 28 Apr 2017. Record of three marine snails from the Singapore Strait: Nassarius acuticostus. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2017: 50.
- Tan Siong Kiat. 9 May 2014. First record of Nassarius biendongensis from Singapore. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2014: 124-125
- Tan Siong
Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary
Checklist of The Molluscs of Singapore (pdf), Raffles
Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore.
- Tan, K. S.
& L. M. Chou, 2000. A
Guide to the Common Seashells of Singapore. Singapore
Science Centre. 160 pp.
- Wee Y.C.
and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore.
National Council on the Environment. 163pp.
- Ng, P. K.
L. & Y. C. Wee, 1994. The
Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened Plants and Animals of Singapore.
The Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore. 343 pp.
Dharma. 1988. Indonesian shells (Siput dan Kerang Indonesia).
PT Sarana Graha. Indonesia. 111 pp.
- Abbott, R.
Tucker, 1991. Seashells
of South East Asia.
Graham Brash, Singapore. 145 pp.