100 Fun Facts About Clams

Everyone loves clams. A little butter, a little candlelight, yum! But, have you ever wondered about the secret life of this tasty mollusk? Here are 100 fun facts you probably never knew about the lowly clam.

  1. Freshwater clams can live inside an aquarium.

  2. The three main types of clams are soft-shelled, hard clams, and surf clams.

  3. Clams are classified as a mollusk.

  4. There are over 15,000 species of clams.

  5. There are over 150 edible species.

  6. Steamers are soft shell clams.

  7. Clams live in the sand upside down.

  8. Clam in Sand

  9. Only 1/10th of 1% of larvae survive to become adult clams.

  10. Depuration is the process of cleaning shellfish, removing bacteria, so that it is safe for us to eat.

  11. Quahogs are a species of clam.

  12. Quahog is a name from the Naragansett Native Americans.

  13. Native American Wampum Belts

  14. Native Americans used quahog shells to create Wampum, traditional shell beads used to fashion necklaces, barcelets, or belts.

  15. Native American Wampum

  16. The Giant clam can weigh more than 400lb and live for over 150 years.

  17. Clams are one of the most sustainable seafood resources in the U.S.

  18. It takes 3-4 years for a clam to mature to market size.

  19. Clams Casino was invented in Rhode Island and focuses more on bacon than the actual clam.

  20. A clam can live until about 35 years if not eaten.

  21. Clams do not have eyes, ears, or noses.

  22. Clams perfer mud flats, the deep ocean and coral reefs.

  23. Small freshwater clams fertilize eggs in a pouch and bear their young until its shell develops.

  24. Evergreen State College's mascot is a geoduck clam named "Speedy".

  25. Clams are bivalves, meaning they have two shells.

  26. Clams main food source is plankton.

  27. January 21st is National New England Clam Chowder Day.

  28. February 25th is National Clam Chowder Day.

  29. In 1939, a law was passed making it illegal to put tomatoes in clam chowder.

  30. There are many types of regional clam chowder recipies: Manhattan Clam Chowder, New England Clam Chowder, Rhode Island Clam Chowder, San Francisco New England Clam Chowder.

  31. You need a license to dig for clams or oysters.

  32. Areas where there are a lot of clams are called clam flats.

  33. How to shuck clams: [1] insert the tip of a jackknife or paring knife between the shells as close as possible to the back muscle, [2] rotate the clam in your hand and cut with the knife, all in one motion, [3] lift off the top shell, [4] insert the knife at the back of the bottom shell, and [5] rotate the shell in your palm as before, cutting under the meat.

  34. How to Shuck Clams

  35. The best time to go clam digging is an hour before low tide.

  36. Clams prefer to be in groups close to each other.

  37. New England clam digging season spans June through early September.

  38. First documented giant clams date back to 1521.

  39. Clams are a part of the Christmas Eve meal - The Feast of the Seven Fishes.

  40. Adult giant clams cannot close their shell completely.

  41. Clams don't have a brain.

  42. Inside of a Clam

  43. The oceanic surf clam is the greatest commercial species.

  44. Lawrence "Chubby" Woodman invented fried clams in 1916 in Essex, MA.

  45. Chubby took in $35 the first day he sold fried clams.

  46. Clams live in bays and along the coast.

  47. Predators of the clam include snails, crabs, shrimp, starfish, fish, and birds.

  48. Native Americans also used clam shells for making tools such as scrapers, knives, spoons, and hoes.

  49. Clams have two adductor muscles that hold the shell tightly closed.

  50. Clams feed year-round, except feeding less during the winter because they need less energy.

  51. No two giant clams have the same colors and patterns.

  52. Clams can't breathe in an air environment; however some clams can spend months or years out of water.

  53. You can count the number of growth lines on a clam's shell to determine its age.

  54. Some clams can produce pearls.

  55. Pearls in a Clam

  56. One in 5,000 clams forms a pearl.

  57. Freshwater clams produce natural pearls and quahog clams produce quahog pearls.

  58. Because they are uncommon, clam-produced pearls can be quite valuable.

  59. Quahogs are the Official Shell of Rhode Island.

  60. In 1956 in Okinawa, Japan, the largest clam ever recorded was discovered weighing 750 pounds.

  61. Professors from Clarkson University found a way to harvest energy from clams to power an electric motor- the amount of energy harvested depended on the clams health.

  62. Clams have been known to absorbe some chemicals- cleaning the waters- Californian researchers put clams and mussels to the test. The bivalves removed 80% of contaminants.

  63. Clams can be raised is clam farms where they are harvested to be cooked and eaten.

  64. Clam farms are located in bays or estuaries in mesh bags or cages.

  65. Giant clams cannot move from their position on a coral reef.

  66. Clams have gills for respiration and feeding.

  67. Moon snails are the primary preditor for soft-shelled clams, secreting a chemical that softens the shell so they can drill a hole and eventually eat the clam.

  68. Moon Snail Hole in a Clam

  69. If a clam doesn't open while cooking, it means it died before purchasing and shouldn't be eaten.

  70. Larval clams (baby clams) spend time drifiting in the waters before settling down in one location.

  71. The clam farming industry brings in over $50 million per year.

  72. Clams grow their own shells by secreting calcium carbonate that creates a protective shell.

  73. Clam shell patterns are like snow flakes, no two are the same!

  74. Clams burrow in the sand or mud to avoid predators.

  75. Clams are typically 1-2 inches across the shell.

  76. Giant Clams are considered a delicacy in Japan.

  77. A clam has only two goals in life: to eat and to have sex, hence the phrase "happy as a clam."

  78. A typical Clambake menu consists of Clam Chowder, steamed clams and mussels, hot boilded lobsters, red bliss potatoes, corn on the cob, coleslaw, and watermelon.

  79. Quahog stuffing normally consists of breadcrumbs, butter, olive oil, parsley, basil, red pepper, garlic powder, pepper and chopped quahog meat.

  80. Williams-Sonoma suggests pairing steamed clams with a with a Sauvignon Blanc.

  81. The best wine pairing for clam chowder is a White Riesling.

  82. The Huffington Post suggest pairing clam chowder with a stout beer like Murphy's or Guinness.

  83. To make drunken clams, add a dry white wine to butter, garlic, and a few seasonings.

  84. Cockles have heavy ribbed shells and are heart-shaped.

  85. Bent-nose clams have a distinct bend at the end of their shell.

  86. Razor clams have long thin shells.

  87. Littlenecks are the smallest hard-shelled clam.

  88. Geoducks were named after the Chinese phrase for "elephant trunk clam".

  89. There is a Clam Flat Hotline: 1-800-43-CLAMS for information about specific closures.

  90. Colonists in early America only ate clams in times of desperation.

  91. Early American colonists used salted clams for bait.

  92. The current price for a bushel of clams is between $90-$160 (the size of the bushel depends on how big the clams are).

  93. A bushel of clams typically weighs about 48-60 pounds.

  94. A commercial clam digger usually gets about 500 pounds in a day.

  95. Mya Arenaria clams got their name from the latin words "mya", meaning muscle, and "arenaria" meaning to hug the beach; thus their literal name is "muscle that hugs the beach".

  96. Recycled clamshells can be used for water purification - removing calcuim carbonate to remove toxic elements from wastewater.

  97. Students from the College of Charleston, SC, collect and recycle clam and oyster shells from buisnesses to help restore eroding reefs.

  98. Massachusetts has their own recycling program: The Massachusetts Oyster Project, which also recycles clam shells.

  99. The main types of clams in Boston Harbor include quahogs, razor clams, soft-shelled clams, and surf clams.

  100. Soft-shell clams from Boston Harbor must go through depuration before being sold or eaten.

  101. The MA Division of Marine Fisheries sometimes plants juvenile clams off Massachusetts shores to increase availablity to fisherman.

  102. Commercial Harvesting of Clams

  103. The only shellfish purification plant in MA is on Plum Island in Newburyport and processes about 560 bushels of clams a week.

  104. Planting juvenile clams is called seeding.

  105. Boston spent $800,000 in 2011 on a clam-restoration project.

  106. Soft shell clams are more commonly known as steamers.

  107. Geoduck clams are meant to be thinly sliced for sushimi - raw.

  108. The first legislation regulating clamming was introduced in Maine in 1821.

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