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Marsh Periwinkle

Littorina irrorata

Marsh periwinkles usually live on needlerush and saltmarsh cordgrass stalks. (NOAA Photo Library)
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Marsh periwinkles usually live on needlerush and saltmarsh cordgrass stalks. (NOAA Photo Library)

The marsh periwinkle is a small snail with a thick, spiraling shell. It lives in tidal marshes and wetlands throughout the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay.

Appearance:

  • Spiraling, grooved shell
  • Slightly pointed spire
  • Varies in color from grayish-white to tan
  • Reddish-brown flecks on the spiral ridges
  • Grows to 1 inch

Habitat:

  • Found in low, sheltered tidal marshes and wetlands
  • Usually lives on needlerush and saltmarsh cordgrass stalks

Range:

  • Common in the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay

Feeding:

  • Grazes on algae and detritus on the surface of plants and the ground

Predators:

  • Blue crabs, mud crabs and terrapins prey upon marsh periwinkles
  • Avoids predators by climbing up marsh grass stalks

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Lays individual eggs into the water
  • Eggs hatch into free-swimming larvae
  • Larvae develop into small snails in mid-summer

Other Facts:

  • Uses a gill to get oxygen from the water
  • Marsh periwinkles are gastropods, a type of mollusk that includes whelks, snails and slugs

Sources and Additional Information:




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