Hard Clam Mercenaria spp.
Hard clams, or quahogs, can be found in muddy intertidal sands to
depths of 120ft. The northern quahog (Mercenaria
mercenaria) grows 5-6" in length and ranges from the Gulf of
St. Lawrence to Florida. The interior of the shell is often marked
by a dark purple border along the edge and the center of the
outside of shells maybe smooth. Some smaller specimens exhibit
zigzagging lines on the exterior and are classified as a subspecies
(M. mercenaria notata). The southern quahog (M.
campechiensis) is similar to the northern quahog in appearance
but is generally more robust, has a rough exterior, and is mostly
white on the interior of the shells. Southern quahogs range from
New Jersey to Florida, and around the Gulf of Mexico. The overlap
in the range of these clams results in hybrids which may exhibit
characteristics of both species.
Hard clams are harvested commercially and represent an important
aquaculture industry in Florida.
Image Credit: FWC