St. Lawrence species

Atlantic surf clam

Spisula solidissima

Type of resource

  • Seafood
  • Seafood - molluscs

Status of the resource

  • Not determined

In season

Fresh from March to June and September to December.

SIZE : Up to 22.5 cm.

LIFE EXPECTANCY : About 10 years, up to 30 years.

LIFE CYCLE : Sexual maturity around 4 years.

Atlantic surf clam can be male or female, with no apparent physical difference.

Individuals release their reproductive cells simultaneously, and fertilization takes place in the water. Reproduction takes place mainly in July and August. Eggs become planktonic larvae, then grow into young miniature surf clams that burrow into the sand. Surf clams grow faster in cold water. They reach 9 cm in 5 or 6 years.

The Atlantic surf clam has a thick, robust shell in the shape of a symmetrical triangle with rounded angles. Both valves are the same size and have growth lines. Atlantic surf clams are ivory to cream, with a thin yellowish-brown coating on the outside. The inside is white.

Coastal zone, usually up to 45 m deep.

The Atlantic surf clam buries itself in shallow sand. It prefers bottoms with strong currents.










Atlantic surf clam filter water to feed.
Credit : glenysg, photo taken in Kings County, in 2022.

MACHINES : Hydraulic dredge, hand harvesting.


  • Specified fishing season
  • Minimum size of 90 mm
  • Limited number of permits
  • Quotas
  • Commercial fishing is exclusively practiced in the Magdalen Islands.
  • Recreational harvesting is authorized in the Gaspé Peninsula and in the Magdalen Islands. A daily maximum of 300 Atlantic surf clam is authorized.

Recreational harvesting; yes, but only under certain conditions.

Shellfish can be toxic. Be sure to find out about harvesting conditions and whether your area is open. This information can be found on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website.

BENEFITS Bivalve molluscs are rich in protein, vitamin B12, selenium, zinc, iron, and vitamin A.

LET’S COOK Slightly rubbery texture. Sweet, fine taste.


  • To avoid a rubbery texture, the best way to prepare Atlantic surf clams is to cut them into thin strips and then bread and fry them.
  • Some high-end chefs use them raw.
  • Its large, solid shell can be used as a plate to serve its own meat in an original way.

To avoid poisoning, it's important to always follow safe shellfish storage, handling and cooking practices.
Sources : DFO