Urosalpinx cinerea

Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Order: Neogastropoda
Species name: Urosalpinx cinerea (Say 1822)
Synonyms: None
Common name: American oyster drill, American tingle, American whelk tingle
Date of introduction and origin
Urosalpinx cinerea was first recorded from the Essex oyster grounds in 1927 by Orton & Winckworth (1928) who believed that it was probably introduced about 1900 from the east coast of the USA where it occurs naturally.
Method of introduction
It was an associated unintentional introduction with American oysters Crassostrea virginica.
Reasons for success
It found a plentiful food supply on the oyster beds.
Rate of spread and methods involved
It has shown slow and limited natural dispersal; movement has been facilitated through trade in oysters (Cole 1942).
It is found on the Essex and Kent coasts, especially in the estuaries (Hancock 1959; Franklin & Pickett 1974). It has been severely affected by tributyl tin (TBT) pollution. It has not been found intertidally in East Anglia since 1991 (J. Light & I. Killeen pers. comm. ). However, live specimens and egg cases continue to occur amongst oysters collected outside the Blackwater and Crouch estuaries, Essex, in deeper water offshore (B.E. Spencer pers. comm.). Some breeding enclaves may still survive off Whitstable, (Gibbs, Spencer & Pascoe 1991). It has not been recorded from other sites in England where American oysters were deposited. It is not known to occur in the rest of Europe (MAFF pers. comm.).
Factors likely to influence spread and distribution
Its limited adult mobility and lack of a free-swimming larval stage prevents it spreading quickly (Gibbs, Spencer & Pascoe 1991). A susceptibility to TBT and development of the debilitating condition known as 'imposex' has depleted populations on the Essex oyster beds since the early 1970s (Gibbs, Spencer & Pascoe 1991).
Effects on the environment
It predates native oysters; each individual consumes about 40 oyster spat (5-20 mm diameter) per year (Hancock 1954).
Effects on commercial interests
It devastates commercial oyster beds through predation.
Control methods used and effectiveness
'Tile traps' have been used during the summer to control this species (MAFF pers. comm.). On the Essex oyster beds at least, bounty was paid for bucket loads of U. cinerea (P. French pers. comm.).
Beneficial effects
None known.
Cole, H.A. 1942. The American whelk tingle, Urosalpinx cinerea (Say), on British oyster beds. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 25: 477-508.
Franklin, A., & Pickett, G.D. 1974. Recent research on introduced oyster pests in England and Wales. Unpublished, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. (Paper, No. CM 1974/K:15.)
Gibbs, P.E., Spencer, B.E., & Pascoe P.L. 1991. The American oyster drill Urosalpinx cinerea (Gastropoda): evidence of decline in an imposex-affected population (R. Blackwater, Essex). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 71: 827-838.
Hancock, D.A. 1954. The destruction of oyster spat by Urosalpinx cinerea (Say) on Essex oyster beds. Journal du Conseil International pour l'Exploration de la Mer, 20: 186-196.
Hancock, D.A. 1959. The biology and control of the American whelk tingle Urosalpinx cinerea (Say) on English oyster beds. Fishery Investigations, Series 2, 22: 1-66.
Hayward, P.J., & Ryland, J.S. eds. 1990. The marine fauna of the British Isles and north-west Europe. 2 vols. Oxford, Clarendon Press.
Orton, J.H., & Winckworth, R. 1928. The occurrence of the American oyster pest Urosalpinx cinerea (Say) on English oyster beds. Nature, 122: 241.
Utting, S.D., & Spencer, B.E. 1992 Introductions of marine bivalve molluscs into the United Kingdom for commercial culture - case histories. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea Marine Science Symposium, 194: 84-91.
Dr P.E. Gibbs, Plymouth Marine Laboratory.
B.E. Spencer, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Conwy.