Banded Wedge Shells: Paired empty valves of Banded Wedge Shell on sand at Rhossili, Gower, South Wales, U.K. (1)

Like colourful butterflies on the sand, the paired valves of the Banded Wedge Shell are one of the common and attractive finds on Rhossili beach, Gower. On the outer surface they are often bright yellow while the inner surface is frequently a lovely lilac or purple colour.

Banded Wedge Shells: Inner surface of paired valves of Banded Wedge Shell on the sand of Rhossili beach, Gower, South Wales.

The empty shells can occur in large numbers on the strandlines but, if you look carefully underfoot at low tide level, you can find the animals alive in the wet sand. Typically, part of the shell protrudes above the surface; it may be obscured by sand.

Banded Wedge Shell: A living Banded Wedge Shell part-buried in wet sand at low tide level at Rhossili, Gower, South Wales.

The texture of the sand varies from fine and compact with a smooth surface texture to patches where the sand grains appear coarser and the surface is an uneven texture looking a bit like lumpy porridge.

Living Banded wedge Shell: Living specimen of Banded Wedge Shell (Donax vittatus da Costa) protruding from coarse wet sand at low tide level at Rhossili, Gower, South Wales, U.K. (4)

Occasionally, the Banded Wedge Shells are found entirely exposed, lying in the surface water. In the picture below you can see the soft translucent fleshy foot and the siphons partially extended between the hard shiny shell. The large muscular foot is used to rapidly draw this bivalve down into the safety of the wet sediments if it is disturbed – either by the incoming surf or passing feet.

Live Banded Wedge Shell on sand: A living Banded Wedge Shell, Donax vittatus (da Costa), with fleshy foot and siphons partially extended, in surface water on sand at Rhossili, Gower, South Wales, U.K. (5)

If you wait patiently and watch a partially buried Banded Wedge Shell, you may witness the cyclical retraction and subsequent extension of the paired tubular siphons as they squirt out water. In the photograph below the siphons are fully extended and have just evacuated.

Banded Wedge Shell alive showing siphons: Living Banded Wedge Shell with the siphon tubes fully extended on the lower seashore at Rhossili, Gower, South Wales, U.K. (6)

Revision of a post first published 29 August 2009


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7 Replies to “Banded Wedge Shells at Rhossili”

  1. Banded Wedge shells are lovely. I have seen ‘paintings’ in galleries constructed from hundreds of these little shells arranged in patterns and making use of the many variations in colour and pattern.


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