Marine Education Society of Australasia Home Page

banner image for Life on Australian Seashores Website

Molluscs - Winks

Periwinkles, Conniwinks and Clusterwinks


Five of the twelve species, or so, of littorinid molluscs found in Australia, occur along the south-eastern shores of Australia. Normally a tropical genus, only a few species occur commonly on southern temperate shores.

Littorinids are not very distinctive molluscs, and only a few have some sort of sculpture to make them distinctive. In fact it is their plain appearance which assists in identifying the group from other closely related, but more ornately scuptured genera.

Most littorinid molluscs have thick walled, turban-shaped shells, with a fairly simple operculum.

What is distinctive about many of the littorinid species is that many of them live in habitats quite high above the high tide level, only being wetted by sea spray. These species may be considered as living examples of some stages in the invasion of the land by marine snails (Rosewater, 1970, 261). "Littorinid" means that they live in the littoral zone, which means intertidal zone.

In south-eastern Australia you will find three Littorinid species and three Conniwink species. These are:



  • Striped-mouth Conniwink, Bembicium nanum
  • Dark-mouth Conniwink, Bembicium melanostoma
  • Gold-mouthed Conniwink, Bembicium auratum

Across Victorian and eastern South Australian shores, you will find in addition, the brownish-coloured Checkered Australwink, Nodilittorina praetermissa.

Small photo of a Tubercled NoddiwinkTubercled Noddiwink, Nodilittorina pyramidalis


Small photo of a Striped-mouth ConniwinkStriped-mouth Conniwink, Bembicium nanum


For more information on Molluscs visit MESA Molluscs


Bennett, I. (1987) W.J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores. p.280-282, Angus & Robertson, Sydney.

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.100-104,New Holland, Sydney.

Edgar, G.J. (1997) Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p.244, Reed Books, Kew.

Rosewater, J. (1970) The Family Littorinidae in the Indo-Pacific. Pt.1: the subfamily Littorininae. Indo-Pacific Mollusca 2(11) p.5-261.

Wilson, B.R. & Gillett, K. (1979) A field guide to Australian Shells: Prosobranch Gastropods. p.50-53, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Sydney.

Conniwinks &

Blue Australwink
Tubercled Noddiwink
Striped-mouth Conniwink

Home Page
Rocky Shores
Tidal Levels
Intertidal Zonation
Environmental Factors
Biological Factors
Feeding Relationships



photo of Keith DaveyLife on Australian Seashores
by Keith Davey (C) 2000

Learning Consultant - Media
The University of Newcastle

email at

Scientific Consultant: Phil Colman
site created 01.01.98 : updated 01.04.2000