Coquina Clam

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Coquina Clam

Donax variabilis 

Range/Geographical Distribution: Delaware to the Gulf of Mexico.

Habitat: The surf zone of sandy beaches with lots of wave action.

Description: A small, wedge-shaped clam with highly variable colors ranging from yellow to red to brown to purple to white.

Size: Can reach ¾ of an inch in length.

Food: Filter feeder; eats plankton and detritus.

Breeding: Male and female clams release sperm and eggs directly into the water for external fertilization. Fertilized eggs hatch into trochophore larva that then grow into veliger larva.  The veliger settles to the benthos and metamorphosizes to the adult form.

Predators: Fish and birds.

Conservation Status: No legal status but it is used as an indicator species for the health of sandy beaches.

Interesting Facts: Coquina clams are adapted to life within the wavy surf and can quickly bury themselves into the sand using their strong foot when they are exposed by receding waves.    These bivalves can live up to two years in the wild but can live only three days without the moving water that brings them plankton and detritus. The coquina can be consumed by humans.

On the Coast: Coquinas are one of the most abundant shells found on Georgia’s beaches.

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