Channel whelks (Busycotypus canaliculatus) were cultured from hatch through 171 days to describe the early life history and growth rates of juveniles. Whelks began to hatch at water temperatures of 15–18°C. Channel whelks grew quickly from average shell lengths (SL) at hatch of 3.8 mm (SE = 0.1) to an average of 48.4 mm SL (SE = 1.3, n = 42 individuals) at 171 days post-hatch. The largest individual reached 53.2 mm SL, a gain of ∼49.4 mm SL in 171 days, with a growth rate of 0.29 mm/day. Juvenile whelks readily consumed oyster (Crassostrea virginica) and mussel (Geukensia demissa) prey. A linear growth model (SL = 0.21 × [Age (days post-hatch)] 1.6068) was used to describe the channel whelk age-at-length relationship. This is the first published growth curve for juvenile channel whelks. The observed juvenile growth rates for B. canaliculatus (0.21 mm/day) are higher than those previously described for Busycon carica. Whelk mortality was very low (<2%) after whelks reached SLs of ∼10–12 mm.
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Vol. 30 • No. 3