Cabestana spengleri Click to enlarge image
Whelk with eggs, Cabestana spengleri Image: Dr Isobel Bennett
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    spengleri
    Genus
    Cabestana
    Family
    Ranellidae
    Order
    Sorbeoconcha
    Class
    Gastropoda
    Phylum
    Mollusca
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    15 cm

The Sydney Rock Whelk is usually found at low-tide level on or near its favourite food, the Cunjevoi.

Identification

The Sydney Rock Whelk has distinguishing red-brown lines, often in pairs between the grooves of the shell.

Habitat

The Sydney Rock Whelk is found on intertidal rock platforms.

Distribution

The Sydney Rock Whelk is found in Southern Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Feeding and diet

The Sydney Rock Whelk selectively feeds on the Cunjevoi's gonads (reproductive organs) and reaches them by inserting its long mouthparts down one of the siphons or feeding tubes of the Cunjevoi.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Aboriginal people most likely ate these snails in the past, as the shells have been found in Aboriginal midden sites around Sydney.