Grey top shell (Steromphala cineraria)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



A small topshell (up to 1.5 cm high and 1.7 cm across), it is bluntly conical with a oval-shaped umbilicus. The umbilicus appears as a small but deep hole on the underside of the shell. The shell has five or six whorls. It is grey to light yellowish in colour, with broad stripes of reddish-brown to purple. The apex is sometimes eroded and silvery.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Common to all British and Irish coasts.

Global distribution



It is found on the lower levels of rocky shores on weed and under stones to a depth of 130 m sublittorally. It is sometimes found in rock pools higher on the shore.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Small topshell with a bluntly conical shell up to 1.5 cm high and 1.7 cm across.
  • Oval-shaped umbilicus.
  • Shell has 5-6 whorls.
  • Grey to light yellowish in colour with broad reddish-brown to purple stripes.

Additional information

In Devon and Cornwall, the umbilicus may be covered by the inner lip.

Listed by

- none -


  1. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  2. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  3. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  4. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  5. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]

  6. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.


  1. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-06-15


This review can be cited as:

Pizzolla, P.F 2002. Steromphala cineraria Grey top shell. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 15-06-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 11/10/2002