Traceable Species


Buckie, Waved Whelk, Common Whelk


Whelks are a marine snail native to the North Atlantic. They can be found along the coastlines of Europe, North America from New Jersey northward and parts of the Arctic including Greenland and Iceland. Whelks are usually found partially buried in the ocean floor, from the low water mark of the intertidal zone down to depths of 1,200 metres. 

Whelks have a heavy, spiral-shaped shell with a pointed tip. Their shell is covered with wavy lines, and their shell opening has an oval shape. The shell varies in colour from grey to a yellow or tan, and their body is white with a mottling of black. They can grow to a maximum width of 10 cm. Whelks are popularly consumed steamed with a light vinegar dressing. 


Whelks reach sexual maturity at five to seven years. In Canada, whelks breed from mid-May to the beginning of July. Two to four weeks later, female whelks will lay their eggs in protective capsules, attached to rocks, shells or stones. Each capsule contains as many as 1,000 eggs, and the capsules of several females are grouped together in large masses of over 2,000. Only a few of these eggs will develop, though, as most are used as a source of food by the growing embryos. Whelks have no free-swimming larval stage; instead, the young emerge from the capsules after five to eight months as tiny, fully developed whelks. The life cycle of European whelks is slightly different than their Canadian counterparts due to colder winter ocean temperatures in Canada.  

Food Info Whelk


  • Colour: brown or tan when cooked
  • Texture: firm, juicy and somewhat chewy
  • Flavour: similar to clams, but with more of a robust flavour
  • Perfect serve: Soak raw whelk meat in salty water for several hours, then steam for 5 minutes. Serve with lemon juice, salt and pepper or the traditional malt vinegar and a winkle picker. 
Species Range
Whelk range Source:
Waved Whelk
Common Whelk
These crabs mate at the time of maturity, which is approximately 3 years of age. Females are smaller than males; this is because the development of reproductive tissues required more energy for females, leaving less energy available for continued body growth. They grow through a process known as molting—regularly shedding their shell and growing a new, larger one. They continue to molt and grow after they have reached sexual maturity. During the breeding season, the crabs leave their borrows in a phenomenon characterized by mass mate-searching events. Once mating/fertilization has occurred, females spawns in the water. The larvae released during the rainy season develop in offshore waters and return to coastal waters five to eight weeks after larval release.
Mangrove crabs are important fishery resources in all Brazilian coast, mainly in the north and northeast where many fishermen depend upon their catch. In addition to its social and economic importance, the mangrove crab is a “keystone” species in ecosystem, they playing an important role in the processes of nutrient cycling and energy transfer.

Fishing Methods

{'fisheries': [<License: Whelk by Trap >], 'gear': <Gear: Whelk Trap>}

Whelk Trap

This fishery uses traps covered with nylon or wire netting submerged on the seafloor to catch whelk. Traps are attached to lines and marked by floats on the surface. The traps attract whelks with bait and capture them live.


Featured Harvester Bernie Berry

Mangrove Crab Harvester

Canavieiras, Brazil

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