Necklace shell (Euspira catena)

NBN Interactive30-05-2006

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

Researched byKen Neal Refereed byAdmin
Authority(da Costa, 1778)
Other common names- SynonymsLunatia catena (da Costa, 1778), Natica catena (da Costa, 1778), Polinices catena.



A helical shell with distinct lines between the rounded whorls, up to 3 cm high by 3 cm wide. The last whorl of the shell occupies about 90% of the shell, ending in the large aperture. The last whorl bears one row of brown marks. The shell bears a distinct, usually rounded umbilicus. Shell buff or paler yellow in colour. The head bears a short snout and two flattened tentacles. The foot is enlarged and partially covers the shell and head in mobile animals. The foot acts as a plough-share as the animal moves through the soft substrata on which it lives. The flesh of the animal is cream or yellow in colour with red-brown marks.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Recorded from all coasts of Britain and Ireland.

Global distribution



On sandy bottoms from low water spring tide level to depths of 125 m. Often buried as it feeds on bivalves.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Shell smooth and glossy.
  • Spire small compared to the size of the last whorl.
  • Lobes of flesh of the foot covers most of the shell when the snail is active.
  • Umbilicus large and usually rounded.
  • Whorls of spire are shouldered and sutures between whorls are distinct.
  • Last whorl bears a single row of brown marks adjacent to the suture.
  • Two flattened tentacles extend over the leading edge of the foot from the base of the shell.

Additional information

Euspira catena is very similar to Alder's necklace shell Polinices pulchellus but with some differences. Euspira catena is a much larger snail, the spire is more obvious in Euspira catena and the whorls are shouldered and have distinct joins (sutures). The shell of Euspira catena is much paler in colour than Polinices pulchellus and has only a single row of brown markings on the last whorl. However, Euspira catena and Polinices pulchellus have similar distributions and habitat preferences and are, therefore, likely to be found together.

Egg capsules are laid in a characteristic open collar-shaped mass of jelly and sand grains (Graham, 1988, Hayward et al., 1996). The collar is ca 7.5 cm in diameter with eggs capsules arranged in regular lines within the collar but bulging slightly on its surface. Breeding occurs in spring and early summer (Graham, 1988).

Listed by

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Further information sources

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  1. Bruce, J.R., Colman, J.S. & Jones, N.S., 1963. Marine fauna of the Isle of Man. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

  2. Crothers, J.H. (ed.), 1966. Dale Fort Marine Fauna. London: Field Studies Council.

  3. Foster-Smith, J. (ed.), 2000. The marine fauna and flora of the Cullercoats District. Marine species records for the North East Coast of England. Sunderland: Penshaw Press, for the Dove Marine Laboratory, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

  4. Graham, A., 1988. Molluscs: prosobranchs and pyramellid gastropods (2nd ed.). Leiden: E.J. Brill/Dr W. Backhuys. [Synopses of the British Fauna No. 2]

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

  6. 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.]

  7. NBN (National Biodiversity Network), 2002. National Biodiversity Network gateway., 2008-10-31

  8. 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.,


This review can be cited as:

Neal, K.J. 2006. Euspira catena Necklace 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:

Last Updated: 30/05/2006