Evaluation of the age of the red whelk Neptunea antiqua using statoliths, opercula and element ratios in the shell

C.A. Richardson, Camille Saurel, C.M. Barroso, J. Thain

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Growth rings present in whole and sectioned statoliths were used to determine the age of red whelks Neptunea antiqua, from the North Sea. Validation of the periodicity of the rings was established in four whelks by comparing the number of statolith rings with the number of seasonal Mg:Ca ratio cycles present in shell calcium carbonate samples drilled sequentially from along the growth axis. There was exact correspondence between the number of growth rings and the number of element ratio cycles in two of the shells and a 1-year difference in the estimated age between the two methods in the other two shells, evidence which is strongly indicative of an annual periodicity of deposition to the statolith rings. The estimated age of the whelks using the statolith rings varied between 4 years (shell length 102 mm) and 17 years (shell length 148 mm). The age of the whelks ascertained from the statoliths was compared with age estimates from the number of adventitious layers in sectioned opercula. The number of adventitious layers in whelks from 51 to 148 mm shell length ranged between 1 and 12 years. No significant difference was observed between the number of strongly defined statolith rings and number of opercula adventitious layers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)55-64
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Age determination
  • Opercula
  • Neptunea antiqua
  • Red whelks
  • Statoliths


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