Common Otter Shell – Lutraria lutraria (Linnaeus)
- Shell oval and elongated
- White or yellowish and often tinted pink or purple
- Up to 130 mm long
- Shells with outer surface sculpture of fine concentric lines and ridges
- Surface of shells frequently with brown, peeling, papery covering called the periostracum
- Shell glossy, brittle, white, light yellow or fawn in colour but can be stained by the mud in which is buried
- Animal lives a sedentary life in a burrow in the sand or muddy sand
- Lives on the lower shore or sublittorally (under water) upto a depth of 100m
- Common off all British coasts
- Empty shells often washed ashore on beaches after stormy seas
- The burrow gets deeper as the animal grows bigger
- Burrow up to 40cm deep
- Keeps in contact with the surface of the sand by a pair of partly joined tubes called siphons
- The mollusc cannot fully withdraw the siphons into the body because they are too large
This information has been retrieved from:
Sea shore of Britain and Europe, Collins Pocket Guide, Peter Hayward, Tony Nelson-Smith and Chris Shields, 1996, ISBN 0 00 219955 6, page 250.
Handbook of the Marine Fauna of North-West Europe, Edited by P. J. Hayward and J. S. Ryland, Oxford University Press, 1995, ISBN 0 19 854055 8 (Pbk), page 608.
MarLIN The Marine Life Information Network for Britain and Ireland run by the Marine Biological Association UK.
British Bivalve Shells – a Handbook for Identification, Norman Tebble (1966), Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History), H.M.S.O., ISBN 0 11 491401 X, page 133.
To see photographs of specimens of Common Otter Shell with the animal still inside and the siphons protruding, click Otter Shells at Rhossili Bay .
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