Project Description

In the shallows I noticed the short siphon of a basket cockle (Clinocardium nuttalli) just above the surface of the sand.  This cockle often likes to rest on top of the sand as well, and although vulnerable can avoid approaching predators such as moon snails and sea stars by extending its large foot and using it as a lever to push itself up and over out of the way across the ocean floor.  I’ve seen this survival technique in action and was surprised at how fast this animal actually can move.  The basket cockle tends to relax above the sand more often than clams like to, but both bivalves can dig down into the ocean floor with their foot.  The shells have deep ridging with a mottled pattern of russet and brown.  The valves can grow to 5.8 inches (14.6 cm) across, and this species can live up to sixteen years.  The basket cockle has a range that includes Kamchatka (Russia) to northern Japan, as well as northern Alaska to southern California.