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Featured Shellfish - Piddocks

 Featured Shellfish December 2011

flat tipped piddock
Flat tipped piddock, Penitella penita
rough piddock
Rough Piddock, Zirfaea pilsbryi

A boring clam, in name only

Rough piddocks are “boring clams”, the name is not a knock on their excitement, but instead a reference to their ability to drill into mud, clay, sandstone, or even rock. Piddock shells look like they inspired modern drilling equipment, and in fact they rotate their shell within their hole to dig deeper as they grow larger. Their hearty foot is used to anchor the clam as it drills with the help of anterior shell teeth (as seen in adjacent photo).

anterior shell teeth
Rough Piddock

Landscape dominanace

In the few areas where conditions are right for rough piddocks they can be found in dense concentrations intermixed with other invertebrate species that appreciate the complexity of the landscape they create.

 

piddock paddock
Piddock Necks

Homemakers:

Rough piddocks are most common in the sandstone areas of Oregon’s higher salinity bays, many other species of piddocks also exist in nearshore rocky areas.

Holes left from past generations of piddocks are used by a number of invertebrates.

The adjacent photo shows an anemone anchored in a former piddock burrow.

piddocks and anemones

anemone and piddock
An anemone anchored in a former piddock burrow.
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