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Pear Whelks!

During low tide it is fun to discover marine invertebrates that are finally exposed on the beach at Capers Island. One way of determining different animals beneath the now exposed sand is through their tracks! Sea snails are notorious for leaving trails, and a type of sea snail we can find on Capers is a Pear Whelk! 

a hand holding a live pear whelk

Live pear whelk!


Pear whelks are one of our spiraled shelled snails that has a unique pattern. The  mottled color on their shells is a type of camouflage that blends them in to their sandy substrate. Their shells can grow up to several inches in length and are more rounded at their crown (whereas knobbed whelks are pointy on their crowns!).  Pear whelks can be commonly confused for channel whelks (smooth crown) so below is a comparison photo of the two species!

comparison photo of pear whelks and channel whelks.

Pear whelks are round on their crown but channel whelks have a taller-round crown! 

The pear whelk has a range extending from the Gulf of Mexico up to the Mid-Atlantic and along the coast. These gastropods (stomach-foot!) prefer sandy or muddy bottoms and at low tides, can be discovered in the intertidal zone of the beach. This is the zone of the beach that has compact hard sand and is usually covered by water. 

Pear whelks are carnivorous predators, like other whelks, and feed on bivalves by drilling through their shells using a radula. Radula are a small structure of teeth used to scrape food particles while the whelk eats. Despite their slow movement, pear whelks are skilled hunters and play a crucial role in controlling the populations of bivalves!

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