The Southern Surf Clam, Spisula raveneli (Conrad, 1832), is the closest relative of the Northern Surf Clam, a species widely used in clambakes and other specialties of the New England culinary. Surf Clams are also related to the Smooth and Channeled Duck Clams, two species previously featured in this weekly column. The Southern Surf Clam may grow to be 5.5 inches in size. Its young (see figure) are often found along the beaches of Southwest Florida, and sometimes may be confused by the casual collector with other species of small clams. Surf Clams belong to the family Mactridae, a group of bivalve mollusks readily distinguishable by the presence of any internal ligament that sits inside a cup-shaped depression called a chondrophore (see figure.)
The Southern Surf Clam, Spisula raveneli. The cup-shaped depression near the top of the shell is the chondrophore (see text). Left, two views of an adult shell measuring about four inches; right, young shell measuring 0.5 inch. Photos by José H. Leal.