Tropical Sea Snail washes up in Cornwall and declared First British Record

If ever you find a bait pot washed up, take a look inside, you never know what you might discover!

In November 2015 writer and beachcomber, Tracey Williams, noticed a Scotty ‘crab diner’ bait jar washed up at Watergate Bay on the north coast of Cornwall. Inside were ten empty shells.

Scotty's Crab diner pot by Tracey WilliamsNot recognising them as a native species, Tracey sent pictures to several marine life experts, including Dr Paul Gainey and Steve Trewhella. They identified the shells as Cerithium litteratum, also known as the Stocky Cerith or Lettered Horn Shell, a tropical sea snail more at home in the Caribbean. 

The shells have since been declared a new British record by the National Museum of Wales. Stocky Ceriths are generally found in shallow waters and among reefs of the Western Atlantic Ocean, including the Bahamas, the Caribbean and Florida. One had previously been discovered on the eastern side of the Atlantic but in County Kerry, west Ireland.  It was found by Rosemary Hill at Loher beach, Waterville. That too was inside a bait jar.

I’m told the sea snails would have entered the bait pot as larvae and fed on algae and detritus” says Tracey. “As they developed, they would have been trapped inside.”  

Although the Scotty crab diner bait pot found in Cornwall was made in Canada, experts believe it was probably being used by fishermen in the southern USA or maybe even further afield. 

It could well have come from the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic coast of Florida, given the range of species we’ve been finding in the UK recently” added one well-respected local marine recorder.

One of the sea snails has since been donated to the Natural History Museum in London


Follow Tracey Williams fantastic beach finds on the Newquay Beachcombing ​Facebook page


What to do when you find a stranded marine animal

All stranded marine life should be recorded; from dolphins and seals, to starfish and sea snails. Please report any stranded marine animal so experts and trained volunteers can respond immediatly - Cornwall's Marine Energency Contacts

Find out more about the CWT Marine Strandings Network