subtitle for littorine & relatives section of A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY

At latest count there are 5 indigenous species of Littorina winkles1 inhabiting the wave-splash areas of west-coast shores.  The largest is Littorina sitkana and the smallest is L. subrotundata, with 3 intermediate-sized species Littorina scutulata2, L. plena, and L. keenae. Two other Littorina species L. saxatilis3 and L. littorea4 are known from introductions from the Atlantic coast into the San Francisco Bay region but, at least for the former species, has limited distribution.

NOTE1 “winkle” is a common shortened version of “periwinkle”.  References to “perwyncles” and “pennywinkles” in English writings date from the early 16th C.  Our west-coast species are too tiny to eat, but one or two of the Atlantic-coast species are quite large and tasty.  Winkle-pickers in Britain and other Atlantic-coast countries, including North America, have been practising their trade for centuries.  Some 19 species of Littorina are recorded from north Pacific and Atlantic oceans

NOTE2  the featured snail in the ODYSSEY is a member of this species

NOTE3 in 1993 researchers discovered a population of an Atlantic-coast species Littorina saxatilis in San Francisco Bay, California that seemed to be well established.  The probable method of introduction is thought to have been as incidental travellers with the masses of east-coast brown seaweeds Ascophyllum and Fucus used as packing for shipments of baitworms and/or lobsters from Maine.  The researchers note the discovery of 2 other littorinid species L. littorea and L. obtusata imported with baitworms into the San Francisco Bay area but add that, unlike L. saxatilis, neither appears to have established a permanent colony.  Carlton & Cohen 1998 Veliger 41: 333.

NOTE4 recently, several populations of L. littorea, the large periwinkle so favoured by "winkle-picking" connoisseurs in Europe and the Atlantic coast of North America, have been discovered by researchers from the University of British Columbia on local beaches. As the species is commonly sold in photograph of ochre star Pisaster ochraceus eating periwinkles Littorina littorea courtesy Chris Harley, University of British Columbianearby fish markets and specialty stores, the author surmises that releases from these sources, either accidental or intentional, explain the photograph of Littorina littorea courtesy Chris Harley, University of British Columbiaintroductions. However, as this species lives somewhat lower in the intertidal zone than the 4 indigenous species and thus may be susceptible to predation by ochre sea stars Pisaster ochraceus (see photograph on Right), there may exist a natural control for them not present on east-coast shores. Of the 2 main locations mentioned by the author, though, one has ochre stars in abundance and yet the non-indigenous species survives. The discovery is interesting and justifies further research. Harley 2011 The Dredgings 51 (6): 3. Photographs courtesy Chris Harley, University of British Columbia.

Periwinkle Littorina littorea 1X

Ochre star Pisaster ochraceus eating
L. littorea in the laboratory 0.6X

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drawing of littorine returning home after odyssey
ANIMATION of return home after Odyssey
© 2010 Thomas Carefoot

To learn about west-coast LITTORINES: select a topic from the LITTORINE menu at the top of the page

OR: play the ANIMATION of the snail returning to its home on the top of the shore

OR, if you want to see other animations: follow the snail on its ODYSSEY by CLICKING on any X-marked invertebrate on the map

map for littorine part of A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY
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Phylum Mollusca (lit. “soft” or “shellfish” L.)

Class Gastropoda (lit. “stomach foot” G.), referring to the body structure of viscera lying overtop of the muscular foot

SubClass Orthogastropoda (lit. “straight gastropod” G.)

Clade (SuperOrder) Caenogastropoda (lit. “new or recent  gastropod” G.)

Family Batillariidae, including mud snails Batillaria and Ilyanassa

Family Epitoniidae, including wenteltraps (Epitonium)

Family Calyptraeidae, including a half dozen species of slipper limpets Crepidula, some introduced to the west coast along with shipments of Atlantic oysters

Family Vermetidae, including vermetid snails

Family Capulidae, including the hairy snail Trichotropis cancellata

Family Littorinidae (lit. “seashore” G.), including winkles (Littorina), lacunids (Lacuna)

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