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Know your shellfish

American Oyster American Oyster
Crassostrea virginica
Huître américaine

Size
Grows to a length of 5 to 15 cm (2 to 6 in.).

Colour
Its colour varies but is mainly a mixture of brown, gray green and white shades.

Shape
Highly variable.
The two valves are assymetrical.

Fishing Gear
Rakes, tongs or dredge


Arctic Wedge Clam Arctic Wedge Clam
Mesodesma arctatum
Clovisse

Size
Can reach 4 cm (1.5 in.).

Colour
Greyish white

Shape
Wedge-shape

Fishing Gear
Hand digging


Razor Clam Razor Clam
Ensis directus
Couteau droit

Size
Can reach 25 cm (10 in.) in length, generally 6 times longer than it is wide.

Colour
Olive green with a purple lavender triangular space

Shape
Knife or razor-shaped

Fishing Gear
Hand digging or hydraulic dredge


Atlantic Surf Clam Atlantic Surf Clam
Spisula solidissima
Mactre de l'Atlantique

Size
Can reach a size of 15 cm (6 in.); a specimen measuring 22.5 cm (9 in.) has been found.

Colour
Yellowish-white under the rounded portion

Shape
V-shaped

Fishing Gear
Hand digging or hydraulic dredge


Blue Mussel Blue Mussel
Mytilus edulis
Moule bleue

Size
Can reach a size of 10 cm (4 in.).

Colour
Bluish-black shell.
Smooth surface.
Interior pearly white, with violet-blue background.

Shape
Variable, can be straight, convex or concave

Fishing Gear
Hand digging


Common Periwinkle Common Periwinkle
Littorina littorea
Littorine ou Bigorneau

Size
Ranges from 2.5 cm (1 in.) to 4.0 cm (1.5 in.).

Colour
Olive green ranging to grey or brownish-yellow, often streaked with dark red or brown; the shell can also be practically black.

Shape
Spiral

Fishing Gear
Hand digging


Common Whelk Common Whelk
Buccinum undatum
Buccin commun

Size
Can reach a size of 10 cm (4 in.).

Colour
Chalk grey to yellowish or light hazel

Shape
Spiral

Fishing Gear
Whelk pot


Iceland Scallop Iceland Scallop
Chlamys islandica
Pétoncle d’Islande

Size
Ranges from 7 to 10 cm (2.75 to 4 in.).

Colour
Convex shell grey, reddish brown, or chalk white, both inside and outside

Shape
Nearly circular, with two assymetrical wings and about 50 radial ribs

Fishing Gear
Dredge


Moon Snail (or Moon Shell) Moon Snail (or Moon Shell)
Lunatia heros
Lunatie de l’Atlantique

Size
Can reach 11 cm (4.25 in.).

Colour
Dirty white to brown-grey

Shape
Globular, spiral, and smooth

Fishing Gear
Hand digging


Sea Scallop Sea Scallop
Placopecten magellanicus
Pétoncle géant

Size
Generally reaches 12.5 to 20 cm (5 to 8 in.).

Colour
Interior glossy white, upper shell convex and reddish brown and lower shell flat and white

Shape
Nearly circular, with two nearly symmetrical wings

Fishing Gear
Dredge


Softshell Clam Softshell Clam
Mya arenaria
Mye commune

Size
Can reach a size of 9 cm (3.5 in.), though a specimen measuring 16.5 cm (6.5 in.) has been found.

Colour
Generally milky white

Shape
Valves elliptical and unequal

Fishing Gear
Hand digging


Stimpson Surf Clam Stimpson Surf Clam
Mactromeris polynyma
Mactre de stimpson

Size
Can reach a size of 15 cm (6 in.) or more.

Colour
Yellowish-white, hard to distinguish from Atlantic surf clam

Shape
V-shaped

Fishing Gear
Hydraulic dredge


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Created : 2003-07-10
Updated : 2004-06-01
Content reviewed : 2004-06-01
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