Atlantic surf clam
|Atlantic surf clam|
|A 15 cm adult shell of Spisula solidissima from Long Beach, Long Island, New York State. Right valve at the top, left valve at the bottom.|
The Atlantic surf clam, also referred to as the "bar clam," "hen clam," "skimmer," or simply as the "sea clam," is a western Atlantic surf clam, a very large (20 cm), edible, saltwater clam or marine bivalve mollusk in the family Mactridae. It is a much larger relative of the eastern Atlantic surf clam.
The shell of this species is a well-known object to beach-goers in the northeastern United States. People on the beach often pick up a large empty shell of this species, either to dig in the sand with, or take home to use as a decorative dish or ashtray.
The species is exploited commercially as a food item.
Surf clams that live along the New Jersey coast are believed to grow to maturity in approximately seven years, far less than previously thought, according to Rutgers research at the Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory, in Bivalve, New Jersey.
This species is a commercially exploited species, long prized for its sweet flavor. About two-thirds of a surf clam's shucked weight is viable for human consumption. The meat of the clam is used as 'strips', chowder, and sushi.
The "tongue" or foot of the clam is commercially valuable because it is cut into long strips which are breaded and fried and served as "clam strips", first popularized by the Howard Johnson's franchise.
The meat that is left over is separated from the "belly" and is referred to as "salvage" within the clam industry. This meat includes the adductor muscles, which are the strong muscles that close the two halves of the shell and which tightly hold the clam's shell in the shut position. "Salvage" is typically ground up for use in chowders, sauces, and dips, and is commercially available either in cans or frozen. Locally it is available fresh.
As a side note, the substantial "belly" of the clam is used by knowledgeable fishermen as excellent bait for striped bass and other species.
- Director Dan Horn, "Sea Clam," http://www.town.barnstable.ma.us/NaturalResources/GuideToShellfishing/seaclam.asp, accessed September 15, 2009.
- Rehder, H.A. (1981). The Audubon Society Field Guide to Seashells of North America. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-51913-2.
- Virginia Marine Products Board, "Atlantic Surf Clam," http://www.virginiaseafood.org/consumers/factsheets/atlanticsurfclam.htm, accessed September 15, 2009.
- The Long Island Shell Club, 1988. Seashells of Long Island, Long Island Shell Club Inc, New York State.
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