Family: Buccinidae. This large family of 800 species worldwide can be found live in shallow waters and in mud flats. Whelks are carnivores or scavengers. The Whelk is an active predator, and pries open a clam or oyster shell by surrounding it with its muscular foot. The larvae have complete miniature shells and can crawl when they emerge. A large number of the species are commercially fished for their meat in the North Atlantic. The young whelks develop in an egg capsule and emerge with small shells. These are termed crawl-away young. They do not have a swimming stage during which they join the plankton, as do many mollusks. Tropical whelks tend to be small and are often brightly colored or covered with rows of fine beads. Cold water whelks are usually large and drab, varying in both shape and sculpture.