Click on photo to enlarge. Scale line in photo equals 1cm unless otherwise specified.
* Species which are commonly encountered on the beach.
Nassarius fraterculus (Dunker, 1860)Japanese Nassaintertidal northern Washington to southern BC; Japan size to 15mm
Centennial Beach, Boundary Bay, BC
Centennial Beach, Boundary Bay, BC, intertidal
is an introduced species from Japan and is occasionally found in the
areas where it was introduced. It is similar to our native H. mendica. This has slightly angled axial ribs and faint spiral grooves.
There may be light colored stripes on the shell and the aperture is usually yellowish with dark stripes.
(previous name - Hima fratercula, Nassa fraterculus)
Tritia obsoleta (Say, 1822)Black Dog Whelkintertidal to shallow subtidal central California to southern BC; Florida to southeast Canada size to 30mmThis
species was introduced from the east coast of North America. It
can be very common where it is introduced. The shell is gray to
black with a glossy black aperture. The shell is often weathered
looking. The snails prefer a muddy habitat.(previous names - Ilyanassa obsoleta, Nassarius obsoletus, Alectrion obsoleta, Desmondia obsoleta)
Crescent Beach, Boundary Bay, BC
Crescent Beach, Boundary Bay, BC,
Willapa Bay, WA, intertidal
Birch Bay, WA, intertidal
Nassarius mendicus (Gould, 1849)Western Lean Nassa *intertidal to 75m northern Mexico to northern Alaska size to 22mm
is commonly found intertidally. The shell is usually gray to
brown but may also be striped with white. It has spiral cords and
straight axial ribs which can give it a somewhat beaded appearance.
These may also be worn down to muted sculpture. The Nassa
snails are scavengers.
(synonyms - Hima mendica, Alectrion mendicus, Nassarius cooperi, Nassarius indisputabilus)
Fusinus harfordii (Stearns, 1871)
subtidal size to 52mm
northern California to BC
This shell has spiral ridges and a thick periostracum. The live animal is bright orange.
Fasciolariidae Raft Cove, Vancouver Is., BC
Yachats, OR, intertidal
off Neah Bay, WA
West Seattle, WA, subtidalOlivella baetica Carpenter, 1864Baetic Olive
intertidal to 60m northern Mexico to northern Alaska size to 27mm
is rarely found intertidally in our area. The shell is variably
colored in shades of brown and is frequently patterned with zig-zag
lines or splotches. The shoulders usually have darker lines and
the shell is glossy. It prefers a muddy to silty habitat and is
often buried in the sediment.
(synonyms - Callianax baetica, Olivella diegensis, Olivella intorta, Olivella mexicana, Olivella porteri, Olivella pedrona)
Family Nassariidae, Fasciolariidae
off Neah Bay, WA
Olivella pycna S.S. Berry, 1935
intertidal northern Mexico to northern BC size to 15mm
is very infrequently found north of Oregon. It is more squat than the Baetic Olive. This one is
also distinguished by its distinct wavy lines on a pale background.
The shell is glossy.
(synonyms - Callianax pycna, Olivella pedroana)
This page last revised: 5-25-2019
Whiskey Creek Beach, WA
Olivella biplicata (Sowerby, 1825)
Purple Olive *
to 50m northern Mexico to southern
Alaska size to 35mm
commonly found intertidally in some areas, usually open coastal
beaches. The shell may be brown to purplish in color with the
occasional white or yellowish one found. The aperture and bottom
fold are white. The shell width can vary for its height. At
low tide look for raised trails in the sand to find this species.
The coastal native peoples commonly used olives for necklaces and
decoration and it is still highly regarded by the Makah Nation in
(synonyms - Callianax biplicata, Olivella angelana, Olivella lapillus, Olivella fucana, Olivella parva)