A couple of days ago, I mentioned that my wife had purchased some clams that were harvested offshore from the tiny community of Qikiqtarjuaq. She bought two bags, totaling about 50 clams or so, and you can see one bag, and a few of the clams, in the above picture.
Most people are not aware of it, but the term clam is not a precise zoological name for a particular species but is rather a very broad general term for a whole range of similar, but not necessarily closely related, type of shellfish. I have no idea what particular species is harvested up in Qikiqtarjuaq. The variety has a very pronounced (and rather phallic looking) extension that is sometimes called the ‘neck’ but which is, in fact, a siphon by which the clam ingests seawater and extracts the plankton which makes up its diet. In this feature, it is very similar to the Geoduck (pronounced ‘gooey duck’) and the Horse Clam (or ‘Gaper’), but both these species are native to the Pacific Coast as far as I know and so that would seem to rule them out. I rather thought, after doing a little research, that these clams may be a northern variety of Quahog know as Arctica islandica, but they have the same sort of thin very fragile shell that is called a ‘soft-shell’ (in contrast to the hard shell quahogs), so I really am at a loss. In any event, these clams are sufficiently representative of the whole broad class that we can make some pretty good observations about clams in general… Continue reading “Clams from Qikiqtarjuaq”