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Happy as a Clam!

‘Happy as a Clam’

Did you know this expression is believed to have come from an author in the 1800’s? The expression over time became shorter but the full expression was, “As happy as a clam at high water!”. This meant during high water (or at high tide) clams were free from certain predators like birds or humans and were able to filter feed on plankton!


a close up of an atlantic cockle clam

Living Atlantic cockle clam found on Capers Island!


One of the species of clams we can find along our coasts is the Atlantic cockle clam (Dinocardium robustum).  Cockle is a general term used to group different kinds of saltwater, edible clams together. Atlantic cockles can be found in sandy or muddy shallow substrates along the Atlantic  coast of North America. Their distribution includes the Gulf of Mexico all the way to Massachusetts.

a close up of an Atlantic Cockle Clam

Atlantic Cockle Clam on Capers Island!

Atlantic cockle clams help filter the water and are prey items to various species of birds, humans, and sea snails. Humans can harvest Atlantic cockles for soups or pasta. We encourage sustainable harvesting–so if interested be sure to follow along with Department of Natural Resources guidelines & regulations on harvesting Atlantic Cockle clams. (Click here SCDNR’s Rules and Regs.!). It is also important to check rules and regulations on shellfish beds before harvesting to make sure you are in season AND there hasn’t been a storm to affect the beds. High tides and rains can cause storm runoff and flush pollutants into the coastal habitats. Since shellfish are filter feeders, they then will filter feed on the plankton and pollutants in the water.  After the Nor’easter on December 17, 2023 (check out our blog post on that here!)  a lot of the shellfish beds in the low country were temporarily closed due to contaminates in the water and are in fact still closed. If you are interested in checking on shellfish bed closures, click here!

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