Archerd Shell Collection > Shell Classes > Gastropoda > Buccinidae

Family: Buccinidae (Whelks, False Tritons)

Whelks are a very large and diverse diverse group of molluscs which comprise both the Buccinidae family, discussed here, and the Melongenidae family (q.v.). Widely distributed in Northern waters, they are found in tropical waters as well. The Buccinidae shell is usually characterized by rather deep sutures, a strong spiral shape, and a smooth surface generally without knobs, varices or similar ornamentation. The aperture is large, with a flaring lip that the whelk uses as a wedge to pry open the valves of all kinds of bivalve. Whelks are basically scavengers, and not particular as to what kind of clam they attack. They feed on carrion as well (Nielsen). 
Some Murex shell molluscs also chip away parts of a clamshell in order to  feed on their prey, but Buccinidae whelks have a highly developed wedge technic. They also locate their food by chemical detection rather than by eyesight. Their inhalant siphon, can be turned in the direction of the water current, and the osphradium located near the base of the siphon, can be operated as a movable "nostril." Prey are detectable from a considerable distance, by the osphradium, which serves as a combination taste/smell organ.
Class: Gastropoda
Clade: Neogastropoda
Superfamily: Buccinaoidea
Family: Buccinidae
Major Genera
  • Genus: Buccinum
  • Genus: Cantharus
  • Genus: Colus
  • Genus: Cominella
  • Genus: Engina
  • Genus: Neptunea
  • Genus: Phos
  • Genus: Volutopsius
Neptunea_smirna2.JPG (40821 bytes)

Neptunea_smirna.JPG (54319 bytes)Neptunea smirnia (Dall, 1919)
Smirnia Neptune


Whelk Photo 

Archerd Shell Collection > Shell Classes > Gastropods > Whelks or False Tritons