Northern Quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria)

SHELL LENGTH: Approximately 4 inches (10.16 cm)

Pronounced co-hog, the Northern Quahog is also referred to as the Hard-shelled Clam. Growing up to five inches in length, the shell is thick, heavy, and solid and is usually tan to white with fine concentric rings. A purple color may exist inside along with two adductor muscle scars. A strong foot allows the animal to burrow into mud and sand where it lives. Feeding is accomplished by the extension of a siphon up through the sediment into the water where filtering occurs for oxygen and plankton. Quahogs are eaten by other animals such as moon snails, oyster drills, whelks, sea stars, and man. Fertilization takes place directly in the water where egg and sperm are released. One female can release up to 24 million eggs during one spawning to ensure fertilization! Algonguin Indians gave the Quahog its name and used it for meat, tools, and ornaments. Quahogs are still important today as a food source.