Natural England - Sea snail

Sea snail

Paludinella littorina

This sea snail is tiny, growing to a microscopic 2mm maximum size. It also likes to live in caves and crevices and underneath rocks and shingle. Being both so small and often hidden goes some way to explain why little is known about this animal.

The sea snail is found high up on sheltered coasts where the wave action and tidal currents are weak. It lives in areas rarely covered by the rising tide and its range extends right up into, and above, the splash zone above the high water mark. Sea snails are found in the shingle banks associated with saltmarshes, estuaries and coastal lagoons.

Other common names

Lagoon sea snail

Brief description of European distribution

Primarily a Mediterranean species, the sea snail can also be found in the eastern Atlantic. Its UK distribution is restricted to the south and west coasts between the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly. Its range extends as far north as the Bristol Channel, and it has been found at sites on the north coast of Devon and the coast of Pembrokeshire. The largest populations are found in Cornwall and the Scilly Isles

Conservation status / need

Listed as Rare in the British Red Data Book

Protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

Coastal lagoons and saltmarshes in which the sea slugs can be found are a UKBAP priority habitat. Lagoons and some saltmarshes are also listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive.

Further information sources

Lagoon snail - Paludinella littorinaexternal link Marine life information network

BIOTIC Species Information for Paludinella litorinaexternal link Marine life information network

Paludinella littorinaexternal link World register of marine species (WoRMS)

Habitats of Molluscs: Saltmarsh and Brackish Waterexternal link Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland

Interesting fact

This tiny snail has a partially transparent shell and its greyish white body can be seen through the shell.