MolluscIreland - land and freshwater
  • Otina ovata (T. Brown 1827) Ear-shaped snail
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Otina ovata
© Dr Roy Anderson

Map hosted by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Waterford
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A tiny ear-shaped snail with a very large body whorl and minute spire. Shell surface purplish-brown and often with a chalky deposit. Animal pale and with short, stubby tentacles. Rock crevices on the upper shore. Local.

Key characteristics

  • A tiny ear-shaped shell with very large body whorl and minute spire
  • Shell covered with a purple-brown to brown periostracum, sometimes covered with a chalky deposit
  • Animal pale grey with short, stubby tentacles


2.5-3 mm.

World Distribution

Has a very restricted distribution centred on the coasts of the British Isles and parts of western France. Distribution type: Oceanic Temperate (71).

GBIF distribution map [open in new tab]

Irish Distribution

An interesting member of the upper tidal crevice fauna, very localised in Ireland due to its dependence upon fissuring rock types. Recorded mainly from Co. Down, from Galway Bay and from Cos. Clare and West Donegal according to Stelfox (1911a).


  • Prefers foreshores or gullies in contact with the open sea, usually with a fine, silty-gravel substratum
  • Here it occupies silted crevices, usually within north or east-facing overhangs, 0.5m or so below the Pelvetia zone
  • Found more rarely under stones on silty gravel
  • The very restricted distribution is unusual in a supra-littoral organism and it can be regarded as near-endemic in Britain and Ireland

Red List status

  • Least concern (lc).

Wikipedia link

Wikipedia page for Otina ovata

 Anderson, R., (2016). Otina ovata (T. Brown 1827). [In] MolluscIreland. Accessed on 2024-03-02.