These Surf Clams (Spisula solidissima) were the largest clam shells I had ever seen. They were lying all over the seashore at Stewart Point on the south coast of Prince Edward Island in Canada. They can reach up to 8 inches across. We don’t get this particular species in Great Britain but we have related species that are nowhere near as big.
Empty Surf Clam shells were washed up onto red beach stones and red mud high on the beach, many covered with newly settled acorn barnacle shells. However, they actually live in the sediments much further down the shore, very low in the inter-tidal zone, down to a sub-tidal depth of about 100 feet.
We spotted a couple of local clam diggers with special rake, hoe, and buckets, wading out at low tide to reach an exposed red sand bar where the living clams are found. They said they frequently visited Stewart Point to collect the ingredients for clam bakes and clam chowders.
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3 Replies to “Surf Clam Shells”
Whoa, that’s a huge clam. “Clam chowder ingredient list: 1 clam” Lol!
Although local people have collected these clams, they were not very popular as a commercial proposition until relatively recently. Now, however, they are sucked up off-shore by hydraulic dredges and make up 70% of the clam crop in the United States where the meat is mostly canned (ref: Peterson Field Guide, A Field Guide to the Atlantic Seashore, Kenneth L. Gosner, Houghton Mifflin,p154). I would imagine that the larger specimens would have tougher meat!