information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Banded wedge shell (Donax vittatus)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.
Only coastal and marine records shown



Donax vittatus has a roughly wedge-shaped shell up to 3.8 cm long with the umbones close to the posterior end. The outer shell is shiny and white, yellowish, brown or purple, with the colour often running in bands across the shell. The outer surface has numerous, fine concentric ridges and grooves, and fine lines radiating from the umbones. The inner surface is shiny and white, often with areas tinted pale yellow, orange or purple. The margin of the shell is strongly ridged (crenulate).

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Common on all British and Irish coasts, although records are sparse for the north-west of England and much of Ireland and Scotland.

Global distribution



Occurs intertidally, from mid-shore to depths of around 20 m, burrowing in sandy sediments. It is often abundant on moderately exposed sandy shores and bays.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Slender wedge shaped shell.
  • Umbones posterior of the midline.
  • Two shells eqivalve; anterior side broadly rounded, posterior side more steeply rounded.
  • Ventral margin crenulate on its inner edge.
  • Each valve has two cardinal teeth.
  • Right valve has one anterior and two posterior lateral teeth.
  • Left valve has single, small anterior and posterior lateral teeth.
  • Outer shell surfaces with numerous, fine concentric ridges and grooves, and fine lines radiating from the umbones.
  • White, yellowish, light brown or purple, often lighter round the umbones, with pale radiating rays and often with pigmented bands along growth lines.
  • Inner surface smooth, white with purple or yellow areas.
  • Pallial sinus broadly oval, extending to the midline of the shell.

Additional information

Donax variegatus occurs in similar habitats to Donax vittatus around the south and south-west coasts of Britain but is more regularly oval than Donax vittatus and is distinguished principally by the marginal crenulations which are much finer and feel smooth to the touch. Donax vittatus lives just under the surface of the sediment and is often dislodged by rough seas but the presence of a large, powerful foot enables it to reburrow as soon as disturbance is over and so reduce the dangers of desiccation and predation. If growth is rapid, Donax vittatus can live for two to three years but where growth is slow it may live for up to seven years (Fish & Fish, 1996).

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:


  1. Allen, J.A. 1962. The fauna of the Clyde Sea area. Mollusca. Millport: Scottish Marine Biological Association.

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

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

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

  5. 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.

  6. Gibson, R., Hextall, B. & Rogers, A., 2001. Photographic guide to the sea and seashore life of Britain and north-west Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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

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

  9. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 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.]

  10. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]

  11. Laverack, M.S. & Blackler, D.M., 1974. Fauna & Flora of St. Andrews Bay. Scottish Academic Press (Edinburgh & London).

  12. MBA (Marine Biological Association), 1957. Plymouth Marine Fauna. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom.

  13. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017

  14. 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.

  15. Tebble, N., 1976. British Bivalve Seashells. A Handbook for Identification, 2nd ed. Edinburgh: British Museum (Natural History), Her Majesty's Stationary Office.


This review can be cited as:

Farrell, C. 2008. Donax vittatus Banded wedge 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. [cited 17-08-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 17/04/2008