Knobbed whelks and channeled whelks, found on the Atlantic coast, were collected and consumed by east coast cultures . The Wampanoag enjoyed them chopped and mashed into hash, chowder, or paste . These whelks conches were used as bait to catch fish and their large shells were made into musical instruments similar to trumpets . White beads, known as wampompeag or wampum for short, were made from whelk shells and used as decorations as well as items for trade [1, 2].
The Wampanoag and Micmac (Mi'kmaq) of Richibucto reportedly consumed waved whelks, and the Wampanoag were also known to use waved whelks for fish bait [2, 3].
1. Olsen SL: Animals in American Indian Life: An Overview. In: Stars Above, Earth Below American Indians and Nature. edn. Edited by Bol MC. Dublin: Roberts Rinehart Publishers; 1998: 95-118.
2. Speck FG, Dexter RW: Utilization of marine life by the Wampanoag Indians of Massachusetts. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 1948, 38(8):257-265.
3. Speck FG, Dexter RW: Utilization of animals and plants by the Micmac Indians of New Brunswick. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 1951, 41(8):250-259.
Whelks are divided into a few families, including over 1,000 species spread across around 50 genera. In North America, whelks occur along the Atlantic coast and include the knobbed whelk (Busycon carica), the channeled whelk (Busycotypus canaliculatus), and the waved whelk (Buccinum undatum). Whelks are called buccinum in French. The shell is spirally coiled and most species of whelks can grow quite big.
Howes GJ, Chatfield JE: "Mollusks". In: The Encyclopedia of Underwater Life. Edited by Dawes ACJ: Oxford University Press; 2007.