Flat top shell (Gibbula umbilicalis)

NBN Interactive17-04-2008

Map accurate at time of writing. Visit NBN or OBIS to view current distribution

Researched byPaolo Pizzolla Refereed byAdmin
Authority(da Costa, 1778)
Other common names- Synonyms-



A small top shell, it is slightly broader, more rounded and flatter than Gibbula cineraria, it also has a large round umbilicus (a deep hole on the underside of the shell). It is dull greenish-grey in colour and has broad diagonal stripes of reddish-purple.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Gibbula umbilicalis is found on western shores of the UK as far north as Scotland and on suitable shores in Ireland. It is absent from the North Sea coast and eastern English Channel.

Global distribution



Found from the upper shore into the sublittoral on sheltered rocky shores and is tolerant of emersion and brackish waters.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Small topshell 1.6 cm high, 2.2 cm across.
  • Large round umbilicus.
  • Dull greenish grey in colour with reddish-purple broad diagonal stripes.

Additional information

A form without the umbilicus has been recorded in south-east Cornwall and south-west Devon.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:



  1. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  2. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  3. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  4. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E. (ed.), 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  5. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/mermaid,

  6. NBN (National Biodiversity Network), 2002. National Biodiversity Network gateway. http://www.searchnbn.net, 2008-10-31

  7. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin., http://www.itsligo.ie/biomar/


This review can be cited as:

Pizzolla, P.F 2008. Gibbula umbilicalis Flat top shell. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1481

Last Updated: 17/04/2008