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Did You Know?

The bands or rings on a clams
outer shell indicates its age, much
like rings on a tree. One year
of growth is one full ring.
~Photo courtesy of NOAA~
  • Mollusks like clams, oysters, mussels, and conch are soft-bodied animals that build their own hard-outer shell for protection. To create the shell, they use an organ called a "mantle" to secrete a hard substance known as "nacre" over their body. A mollusks shell is often times washed up on the beach after it dies.
  • Pearls are formed inside mollusks. They form when a sand grain or other irritating particle gets stuck inside the mollusks shell. To protect itself, the mollusk covers the particle with a substance called nacre, which is the material that covers the inside of its shell. After several layers of nacre covers the sand grain a pearl takes shape. Today, many pearls come from cultured or farmed mollusks and finding one in the wild is a one in a million chance.
  • Molluscan shellfish have siphons that skim out food like microscopic plants and animals (phytoplankton and zooplankton) from the water. This is known as filter-feeding.
  • Shellfish like oysters, clams, mussels and scallops are called "bivalves" because they have two halves that are held together by a ligament. A strong adductor muscle helps keep the two valves close.

Harvesting Shellfish:Visit the Shellfishing webpages for information on recreationally and commercially harvesting these animals.

New York's Mollusks

(Click on the links to get information and facts on each mollusk)

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  • Division of Marine Resources
    205 N. Belle Mead Road
    Suite 1
    East Setauket, NY 11733
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  • Page applies to NYS Marine Costal District