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Seasonal patterns in the reproductive activity of the red whelk, Neptunea antiqua (Mollusca: Prosobranchia) in the Irish Sea

  • A.J. Power (a1) (a2) and B.F. Keegan (a1)

The red whelk, Neptunea antiqua (Mollusca: Prosobranchia) is a dioecious prosobranch species with internal fertilization, and lecithotrophic larval development. Sexual dimorphism, sexual ratio, the size and age at sexual maturity, and the annual breeding and hatching periods of this subtidal neogastropod were investigated in the central western Irish Sea. Sexual dimorphism was evident as female whelks were larger in both length and weight. Subtle differences in shell morphology were also detected between the sexes. All samples taken together indicated an equal male to female sexual ratio for the studied population. Size and age at sexual maturity were noted to differ between sexes, occurring at 75–90 mm (shell length), or four to five years in males, and 95–110 mm, or six to nine years in females. Quantitative and qualitative techniques identified an annual spawning period between late spring and early summer. Egg masses containing between 14 and 84 egg capsules were observed attached to the dorsal surface of whelk shells in the succeeding months. An average fecundity of 63·78 juveniles was estimated per egg mass deposited. Juveniles were observed to hatch after 6–7 months in laboratory maintained aquaria, indicating a hatching period from October to January in the Irish Sea.

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Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
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