Common Whelk Shell (1) - Empty shell of the common British marine gastropod mollusc - Buccinum undatum (Linnaeus).

Many seashells, like that of the Common Whelk Buccinum undatum (Linnaeus), show a lot of individual variation in size, shape, growth line patterns, colour, encrustation, and general wear and tear.  That’s what makes the shells so interesting and attractive to look at – even if they do not feature bright colours and exotic designs.

So this marks the first in an occasional series of postings – each showing an individual shell from various different view points to demonstrate macroscopic variability in appearance within different species of common British seashells.

Clicking on a photograph will enlarge the image so you can see the details.

Click here for more information and illustrations on whelks and whelk shells in Jessica’s Nature Blog.


All Rights Reserved

13 Replies to “Just a Common Whelk Shell”

  1. I know exactly what you mean. I have done it myself. I’m laughing as I write this because anything left in the shells, even the smallest bit, has the potential to create such a terrible all-pervasive bad odour. Not at first but some time later, usually long after you have forgotten that you brought the shell home.


  2. It has been known to get rid of house guests and even family have threatened to move out. The worst-ever pong was some dried sponges. At least I think that’s what they were. It took ages to track down the source of the smell as they were in a plastic carrier bag under piles of other stuff in the spare room.


  3. Hello, Nic. Actually, this particular shell was clean when I picked it up after it was washed ashore. The only thing I did when I got it home was rinse it in cold water to get rid of any sand inside and just check that no meat was left.
    I don’t know what would be the best method of cleaning shells. I suppose that would depend on what you were wanting to clean off and why. Also, what kind of shells they were and how strong. If it was the meat that I needed to get rid of, I would manually cut out everything, rinse, and air dry. Masceration might be an option, but a smelly one, if the shell was fragile. Biological enzymes, or oxidising agents like sodium perborate, would need to be used with caution as they could damage the shell.


  4. Thank you for getting in touch. I have sent you an e-mail. Your artwork and publications are intriguingly different and interesting. I enjoyed looking at your site.


  5. Jessica, I am writing my second book on mapmaking, and this one has a chapter on Mother Nature’s maps. I found these files on your site when looking for things that would work for this.

    Art in Nature 1 Ravages of Time 1 Rust Abstract 1 Ravages of Time 3 Rock Geometry 3

    Is there any way you would consent to putting these in the book? I do not have money to pay the contributors, but I can send you the book, and can tell you that this series sells very well. Your contact into would be on the page of contributors. I would need hi res files from you if this is okay. Thanks for your consideration, Jill K. Berry 303-554-7044

    Jill Berry Design

    website: Art Blog: Map Blog:

    Check out my book Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed-Media Mapmaking

    TEXTures stencils:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: