The common whelk is a large-sized snail that can reach up to 15 cm height.
It is found all around Iceland over a wide depth range, from the seashore down to several hundred m depths. It is also in European waters from the White Sea and Spitsbergen in the north to the Bay of Biscay in the south. It occurs around the Faroe Islands, in southern Greenlandic waters and from Labrador to Cape Cod in North America.
The feeding habits are diverse. It is an efficient predator on other sessile or slow moving benthic invertebrates. It is also a scavenger on other dead animals.
The common whelk is the only snail species harvested in Icelandic waters. The fisheries are only conducted in Breiðafjörður bay in western Iceland, using special pots (traps). Catches are highly variable between years.