Lightning Whelk

Range: Lightning whelks can only be found in southeastern North America and the Gulf states.

Size: can be over 12”

Status: common

Identifying Features:

  1. beautiful dark steaks that resemble lightning
  2. long siphon canal
  3. normally about eight whorls which include the body whorl
  4. slight hump just above the middle of the siphon canal
  5. live snail, or the soft parts, are black
  6. extending spikes on every whorl
  7. beached shells are normally light, worn down by the waves

Other names: none

Did you know? Lightning whelks like to eat bivalves such as quahogs and lucines. Many lightning whelk shells break before reaching the sandy beach. Most large, empty lightning whelk shells are buried in the sand and mud and may be revealed after a harsh storm.

Shelling tips: Lightning whelks like to hang out wherever bivalves are, which are mostly sandy shallows and mud bottoms. Shelling for large whelks is best after a storm because large shells may be unburied from the sand and mud from the wind and pounding surf.


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