St. Lawrence species

Softshell clam

Mya arenaria

Type of resource

  • Seafood
  • Seafood - molluscs

Status of the resource

  • Not determined

In season

Fresh from May to October.

SIZE : 10 cm in diameter, rarely up to 15 cm.

LIFE EXPECTANCY : 10 to 15 years.

LIFE CYCLE : There are male and female softshell clams, although it is impossible to tell them apart with the naked eye. Males release their sperm into the water, while females release their eggs. New clams are formed when the two meet, at random. Even if millions of reproductive cells are released, between 90 and 99% of new clams will not grow beyond the larval stage.

The whitish shell is covered by a thin yellow to light-brown envelope. The growth lines are clearly visible. The shell is thick and fragile. Both valves are shaped like ellipses. One is more convex than the other. The mantle serves to protect the other internal organs. The softshell clam has a foot with which it can move and bury in sediment. The two expandable siphons allow the softshell clam to suck in and exhale water. They are wrapped in a strong membrane.

Buried in sediments on the coast. Softshell clams bury themselves in muddy or sandy bottoms at depths of between 30 and 40 cm, and sometimes even up to 200 m.


Organic matters


Bottom fish

MACHINES : Hand harvesting, on foot with a fork or shovel, or with a dredging.


  • Minimum size of 51 mm
  • Limit of 300 clams per day for recreational harvesting
  • Specified season

Commercial harvesting is still practiced on the North Shore and the in the Magdalen Islands, but recreational harvesting is the most widespread. Harvesting takes place at low tide, and it is forbidden to harvest clams within 125 m of a wharf, due to the risk of contamination.

To carry the clams, it is best to place them in a clean container, such as a cooler or insulated bag. A damp towel on top will protect them. The container should remain open so that the clams can breathe. They must not be immersed in fresh water, as this could kill them.

Recreational harvesting, yes, but 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.

Source of protein, minerals, Omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12.

Lean, tender and yet firm meat. Do not eat raw or freeze them alive.


  • Remove the black membrane covering the siphon before cooking.
  • Steam for 5 minutes, until the shell opens. If the shell remains closed, do not eat the clam.
  • Bake for at least 10 minutes at 230 ° C (450 ° F).
  • No matter how you cook them, make sure you do not over-cook them to maintain their flavor and tender texture.
  • Do not eat clams with broken shells.