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The Common Pelican's Foot, Aporrhais pespelecani

Pelican's foot shell sighted on Port Beach.

The Common Pelican’s Foot – Aporrhais pespelecani – is a gastropod mollusc, which is a type of sea snail. The animal gets its name from the likeness of the shape of its shell to a pelican's foot. The pelican is a common seabird in warmer regions around the world that has a large webbed foot. Pelican’s Foot snails can be found in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean, from Norway to the Mediterranean. The shells we find in Irish waters have blunt protrusions and wide webbing, unlike the shells found in the Mediterranean which tend to have sharper protrusions and little webbing. The outer shell is sandy in colour, yellow and brown, while the inside of the shell is pearly white. Pelican’s Foot live below the low water mark at depths between 10 and 180m. They also favour mud or muddy sand areas where they feed on algae and plant debris. Their shells can grow up to 4.5cm long and 3cm wide. Consider yourself lucky to find one of these beautiful shells in Ireland as they are generally only sighted on a few beaches along the east coast!

A pelican on Streaky Bay in South Australia.

Photo Credit: Pelican.Chris Fithall/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

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