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Buccinum undatum:   (click for more)

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  • Buccinum acuminata  Broderip, 1830
  • Buccinum undatum var. caerulea  Sars G.O., 1878
  • Buccinum acuminatum  Broderip, 1830
  • Buccinum undatum var. flexuosa  Jeffreys, 1867: p. 286.
  • Buccinum undatum var. lactea  Jeffreys, 1867, 1867: p. 294.
  • Buccinum undatum var. paupercula  Jeffreys, 1867: p. 286.
  • Buccinum donovani  Sars G.O., 1878, non Buccinum donovani Gray J.E., 1839
  • Buccinum fragile  Sars G.O., 1878
  • Buccinum pictum  Verkrüzen, 1881
    FAO Names
    En - Whelk, Fr - Buccin, Sp - Bocina.
    3Alpha Code: WHE     Taxonomic Code: 3070800101
    Scientific Name with Original Description
    Buccinum undatum  Linnaeus, 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis. Edition 10, Tomus 1, Holmiae. 824 pp.
    Diagnostic Features
    An extremely variable species, in shell size as well as in weight, sculpture, shape and colour.  Shell solid, mature individuals especially robust and heavy. Periostracum hispid in juveniles, missing from most of shell in adults. Spire of seven or eight tumid whorls, last whorl large (about 70% of shell height); sutures deep. Sculpture of strong crescentic costae, spiral striae and growth lines. Costae do not extend to base of last whorld; 12-15 on penultimate whorl. Spiral striae numerous, major ridges separated by variable number of minor ridges to form a regular pattern. A thick spiral keel, the siphonal fasciole, runs from base of shell to umbilical region. Aperture broadly oval. The outer lip describes a high arc to tip of short, siphonal canal. Inner lip reflected over columella and large area of parietal region of last whorl. 
    Geographical Distribution
    Common in the North Sea and other shelf seas bordering the North Atlantic Ocean. Whelks occur as far south as Brittany (France) and up into the Arctic region (Taylor & Taylor, 1977) and the species lives at both the western and eastern border of the North Atlantic.
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    Habitat and Biology
    Sublitoral, they are poor adapted to intertidal conditions. From below the low tide line to a depth of 100 m. Prefers sand, sandy mud or stony bottoms.Whelks are active predators that mainly feed on live bivalves (Nielsen, 1975) and identify the location of food sources by chemoreception (Bailey & Laverak, 1966).
    Sexual maturity is reported to occur after 5 to 7 years depending on the sex of the individual and other factors. In the North Sea whelks reproduce in the autumn. The spawning period can be different in other areas (Martel et al., 1986). Females retreat to hard substrate areas to deposit their egg capsules. Often several females will attach their eggs to the same egg mass. The eggs hatch in winter into benthic juvenile snails, rendering a limited dispersion of offspring.  Whelks have a fairly long life span of at leas 10 years (Santarelli et al., 1986).Living in moderate or cold sea temperatures. This species responds adversely to elevated temperatures, while 29 C is lethal (Gowanloch, 1927). Tolerance for low salinity is limited (Russell-Hunter & Russell-Hunter, 1963), with a lower limit at a salinity of 2.0% (Staaland, 1972). 
    Usually around 60 mm but sometimes much larger (120 mm).
    Interest to Fisheries
    Whelks have traditionally been fished for food in several countries around the North Sea, either by baited pots along the coast of East Anglia and Lincolnshire (Hancock, 1967) or by special trawl nets in and around the German and Dutch Wadden Sea and in southwestern Dutch waters. They are also fished for food along the French and English Channel coast. From the central North Sea, whelks are mainly landed as a bycatch. There is a newly emerging fishery in the Gulf of Maine targeting the waved or common whelk. Whelks in Maine have traditionally been landed as an incidental by-catch of the lobster fishery, with only a handful of harvesters utilizing specially designed whelk traps in a directed effort. FAO's Yearbook of Fishery Statistics reports a range of yearly production from around 15852 mt in 1995 to 17988 mt in 1999 (Belgium, Channel Is., Denmark, Faroe Is., France, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Netherlands, Spain, UK) in Northeast Atlantic.
    As food in Europe. In USA the product is typically shipped live for mostly ethnic (oriental) markets in Boston and New York City. A cottage industry also exists that produces pickled meats, and creates shell ornaments.
    It was observed a decline in the whelk populations of the North Sea and in the Dutch Wadden Sea in 1991. This was related to the presence of TBT (tributyltin) from antifouling paints, that cause the phenomenon known as "imposex" (Hallers et al., 1996). Buccinum undatum may be confused with Neptunea antiqua, the red whelk, but this does not have the coarse ribbing of Buccinum undatum and is not edible.
    Bailey, D. F & M. S. Laverak - 1966. Aspects of the neurophysiology of Buccinum undatum L. (Gastropoda). I. Central responses to stimulation of the osphradium. J. Exp. Biol. .  44: 131-148..
    Gowanloch, J.N. - 1927. Contribution to the study of marine grastropods: the intertidal life of Buccinum undatum, a study in non adaptation. Contributions to Canada biology and fisheries .  3: 167-178..
    Hallers-Tjabbes, C.C., Everaarts, J.M., Mensink, B.P. & J. P. Boon - 1996. The decline of the North Sea whelk (Buccinum undatum L.) between 1970 and 1990: a natural or a human-induced event?
    Hancock, D.A. - 1967. Whelks. Laboratory Leaflet, Fisheries Laboratory, Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, U.K. .  14 pp..
    Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. - 1995. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Hayward, P. J., Wigham, G.D. & Yonow, N. - 1990. Mollusca I: Polyplacophora, Scaphopoda, and Gastropoda. In: The marine fauna of teh British Isles and North-West Europe, Vol. 2. Molluscs to Chordates. P.J. Hayward & J. S. Ryland (Eds). Clarendon Press, Oxford . 
    Martel, A., D. H. Larrivée, K. R. Klein & J. H. Himmelman - 1986. Reproductive cycle and seasonal feeding activity in the neogastropod Buccinum undatum. Mar. Biol. .  92: 211-221..
    Nielsen, C. - 1975. Observations on Buccinum undatum (L.) attacking bivalves and on prey responses, with a short review on attack methods of other prosobranchs. Ophelia. .  13: 87-108..
    Russell-Hunter, W. & M. Russell-Hunter - 1963. Buccinum undatum L. in teh Clyde Estuary. Glasgow Naturalist. .  18: 249-250..
    Santarelli, L., G. Véron & J. Huet - 1986. Exploitation du buccin dans le Golfe Normano-Breton. La pêche maritime. .  65: 48-52..
    Staaland, H. - 1972. Respiratory rate and salinity preference in relation to the ecology of three marine prosobranchs Buccinum undatum (L.), Neptunea antiqua (L.), and Neptunea despecta (L). Norw. J. Zool. .  20: 35-51..
    Taylor, J.D. & N. Taylor - 1977. Latitudinal distribution of predatory gastropods on the eastern Atlantic shelf. J. Biogeogr. .  4: 73-81..
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