You have probably never seen a living whelk. Nevertheless, the whelk is a large sea snail belonging to the normal benthic fauna of the North Sea. It lives at deeper sea depths. You usually only find the empty shells on the beach sometimes occupied by a hermit crab. This snail is very sensitive to overfishing, churning up of the sea floor and toxins, such as tributyltin. Due to a combination of all these factors, the whelk has practically disappeared from the Dutch coastal region and the Wadden Sea.