Empty Surf Clam shell on the beach

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.

Close-up of a Surf Clam shell covered with baby barnacles

Empty Surf Clam shell on the beach

Empty Surf Clam shell on the beach among red mud and red rocks

Empty Surf Clam shell on red mud

Empty Surf Clam shell on red mud

Surf Clam shells scattered on the tide line of the beach

Low tide sand bar where Surf Clams live at Stewart Point, PEI

Clam diggers setting out with hoe, rake, and buckets at Stewart Point, PEI

Clam diggers wading out to look for Surf Clams

View of Stewart Point beach where the Surf Clam shells were found on the south shore of Prince Edward Island, Canada.


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3 Replies to “Surf Clam Shells”

  1. 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!


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