Oyster drill

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Oyster drill

Scientific name: Ocenebra erinacea
This jagged-shelled sea snail is normally found near its favourite food - oysters!

Species information


Length: up to 6cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Oyster drills are whelks, living below the low tide mark down to depths of 150m. Surprisingly enough, the Oyster drills favourite food is oysters! They feed by boring through the oyster shells with their sharp proboscis.
Oyster drills are native but there's an invader on the Kent and Essex coasts... the American oyster drill has been recorded there. This non-native species also feeds on our native oyster beds.

How to identify

The Oyster drill is unmistakeable, being much rougher and more jagged in outline than any other whelk. It is yellow or white in colour, with brown markings.


Found on rocky shores predominately in the west and south west of the UK.

Did you know?

The Oyster drill is also known as the 'Sting Winkle' or 'Rough Tingle'.

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.