Maine Seafood Guide – Periwinkles & Whelks
Periwinkles Littorina spp. and whelks Buccinum undatum
also known as wrinkles, conch, snails
Periwinkles are herbivorous snails that graze on algae growing on rocks and seaweed in the intertidal zone.
Whelks are larger, heavier, carnivorous snails living below the tideline and often found in and on lobster traps.
The Department of Marine Resources has implemented a minimum size for periwinkles. More than 90% are landed in Washington County, where the resource experiences extra harvesting pressure during times of economic decline.
Whelks are captured with baited pots. (Called “conching” “whelking” or “trapping conchs.”)
Perwinkles are collected by hand (“wrinkling”) or with a 6’ or smaller drag.
See the vessel and gear guide for more information.
Up to two quarts of periwinkles and up to ½ bushel (four gallons) of whelks per person per day for personal use without a license.
Whelks and periwinkles are low in fat and calories, and low in omega-3 fatty acids. Whelks may be subject to red tide closures. To be safe and ensure you collect from clean areas, check the DMR’s list of closed areas; 1-800-232-4733 or 207-624-7727.
Periwinkles and whelks are pickled and sold locally as “wrinkles.” Most of the harvest is exported live to major US cities and Europe, where cooked meat is picked out of the shell with a pin, and to Asia where raw snails are a delicacy to be sucked out through a tiny hole ground in the shell.
Maine Department of Marine Resources whelk page