There are a lot of species of shellfish other than the typical oyster and clam selection you see on a restaurant menu. Some shellfish survives better in warmer climates and that is why we may not see it in the North east, and because we have a perfect climate for clams and oysters we have developed many ways to eat these shellfish that are native to us in Massachusetts.
Some of our local shellfish species include the quahog or it’s scientific name mercenaria mercenaria. Depending on the size of the quahogs' shell the shellfish can go by the name of littleneck or cherrystone. The quahog fits into the category of a mollusk. A mollusk is basically a soft bodied animal contained by a hard shell. Because it has a hinged shell it is further categorized as a bivalve. This means that it unhinges it’s shell and filter feeds through the water. Believe it or not but a large clam can filter a gallon of water every hour. These shellfish are plentiful from northern New England shores down to the New Jersey area. And although we usually eat these shellfish within it’s first few years of life, it is possible for a quahog to live upwards of 200 years if no one finds them first.
In contrast to our native quahog, the geoduck or Panopea Abrupta is native to Americas Pacific coast. Similar to the quahog the geoduck is a bivalve shellfish but on a much larger scale. They can weigh an average of 2.2 lbs. and are much harder to cultivate. Interst in geoducks is relatively new with a large interest starting in the 1990’s in areas such as Japan. There are many other types of shellfish that is popular to the public through farming. Some of these species include:
Sea Scallops or Placopecten Magellanicus
Blue Mussel or Mytilus Edulis
American Oyster or Crassostrea Virginica
Albalone- also called Earshells
Conch or Channeled Whelk, Busycotypus
Shrimp or Heterocarpus Ensifer
Soft Shell Clam or Mya Arenaria
There are so many more species that are new to the general public and even a larger amount that has not yet been discovered by scientists. For the popular shellfish we use aquaculture, which is sustainable to the environment because it is not depleting the natural sets of wild shellfish.