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Atlantic Surfclam

surfclam shells

Commons Name(s): Atlantic Surfclam, Beach Clam, Skimmer Clam
Scientific Name: Spisula solidissima

Where Are They Found?

The Atlantic surfclam ranges along the east coast from Nova Scotia to Cape Hatteras. They are found in sand and muddy sand seabeds from subtidal areas to about 100 feet in depth. The offshore populations are typically larger and older than those found inshore.

How Big Can They Get?

Surfclams may live to about 30 years of age and can get up to 9 inches in length. Most surfclams take about 6 or 7 years to reach harvestable size.

What Do They Look Like?

Surfclams have a relatively strong shell that is somewhat triangular in shape. Shells are smooth and white, sometimes shells have a yellowish color to them. These are the most common shells found on ocean beaches south of Cape Cod.

a basket of live surfclams

Harvesting Clams

This clam is harvested for food and is usually sold canned or frozen. Clam chowder, baked stuffed clams and fried clam strips are how they are usually served.

Catch Limits and Seasons: Information is available on seasons and catch limits for both recreational and commercial shellfish harvesting. Commercial shellfish harvesters must have a shellfish diggers permit and meet other department requirements. A harvest area map is available online for commercial shellfish harvesters to record on harvest tags.

Shellfish Closures: Shellfish like clams, oysters, mussels and scallops may only be taken from areas that are designated as certified by DEC. There are three items to check before going out in the field:

  • Descriptions of all uncertified harvest areas
  • Emergency closures due to temporary water quality conditions that make shellfish unsafe for human consumption. The Emergency Closure Hotline: (631) 444-0480 is also available to find out if an area near you is temporarily closed to shellfishing.

If you have questions or would like more information on shellfish harvesting, please contact the Division of Marine Resources by e-mail or by calling (631) 444-0475.

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