Edible Periwinkle

Edible Periwinkle ©Alex Mustard/2020VISION

Edible periwinkle

Scientific name: Littorina littorea
Edible periwinkles are a common sight when rockpooling and can be found in huge numbers on the shore.

Species information


Height: 3-5cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


This large sea snail is found on rocks and amongst seaweeds around the middle to lower parts of the shore. Known as the Edible periwinkle, Common periwinkle or Winkle, it looks pretty similar to a land snail, with a dark brown or grey banded shell and little eye stalks poking out. The Edible periwinkle feeds by grazing on algae on the rocks using its rasping tongue, called a radula. They don't like dry areas, so will often be spotted clumped together in a crevice or rockpool at low tide.

How to identify

The Edible periwinkle has a rounded, whorled shell, usually greyish-brown in colour. It has concentric ridges, dark lines and a pointed apex. It is distinguished from similar, snail-like periwinkles and topshells by the slightly larger size, rounded shape and generally plainer colours.


Found on rocky shores all around our coasts.

Did you know?

Winkles are often boiled and sold as a snack at the seaside. Using a pin to pull them out of their shells, they are eaten with vinegar and white pepper.

How people can help

When rockpooling, be careful to leave everything as you found it - replace any rocks you turn over, put back any crabs or fish and ensure not to scrape anything off its rocky home. If you want to learn more about our rockpool life, Wildlife Trusts around the UK run rockpool safaris and offer Shoresearch training - teaching you to survey your local rocky shore. The data collected is then used to protect our coasts and seas through better management or through the designation of Marine Protected Areas. The Wildlife Trusts are working with sea users, scientists, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or checking out our Action Pages.