Asian rapa whelk

Rapana venosa


Photo credit: ©Argyo Zenetos
Common names:
  • Asian rapa whelk, vined whelk, rapa whelk, veined rapa whelk

  • Coastal habitats, estuarine habitats, marine habitats.

  • It has a large heavy shell with a short spire. A very distinctive feature is the deep orange colour of the inside of the shell. The outer colour is variable from dull grey to red brown, with more or less conspicuous dark brown dashes on the spiral ribs, which tend to make an interrupted "vein-like" pattern throughout the entire shell.

Origin and Distribution:
  • R. venosa is native to the Sea of Japan, the Yellow Sea, the Bohai Sea, the East China Sea to Taiwan in the south, and Peter the Great Bay off Vladivostok in the north. R. venosa was introduced into the Black Sea in the 1940s and within a decade spread along the Caucasian and Crimean coasts and to the Sea of Azov. Its range extended into the northwest Black Sea to the coastlines of Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey from 1959 to 1972. Subsequent introductions have been reported in the northern Adriatic and Aegean seas. Recent transoceanic invasions by R. venosa, have resulted in occurrence of the species in the Chesapeake Bay on the Mid-Atlantic coast of the United States on the Brittany coast of France and in the Rio del Plata between Uruguay and Argentina .

  • The predatory impact of R. venosa has serious implications for both natural and cultivated populations of marine bivalves. R. venosa are voracious predators and is blamed in the Black Sea for the decline of the native, edible bivalve fauna. They have caused significant changes in the ecology of bottom-dwelling organisms and have resulted in the near extinction of the Gudaut oyster.
  • Please see the Global Invasive Species Database pages on this species for more information.

How might it get here?
  • Ballast water, Aquaculture and hull fouling are considered the main potential pathways to Ireland.

Is it found in Northern Ireland?
  • Not present in Northern Ireland.
  • More distribution information can be seen on the NBN Atlas NI.

You can help by reporting any sightings: @ the Centre for Environmental Data & Recording (CEDaR) - Or via the iRecord App.

Prevent Spread:
  • Avoid hull fouling on your boats.
  • Never take oyster spat from an area known to have Rapana present and transfer to Northern Ireland.
  • Report all sightings.
For further queries, you can contact the Invasive Non Native Species (INNS) Team in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency on 028 9056 9558 or Email:    
Invasive Species Ireland

Invasive Species Ireland