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Fun facts about shellfish

  • When you hold a large seashell beside your ear, the shell captures the noise from around you, which resonates inside the shell. The size and shape of the shell therefore has some effect on the sound your hear.
  • When irritating, foreign substances enter their shells, oysters, mussels and other shellfish coat the foreign substance with layers of shelly material creating a pearl.
  • There are more than 180 species of bivalve shellfish along the Pacific Northwest shores, as well as over 100 single-shell gastropods and more than 100 species of chitons.
  • The owl limpet and the hooked slippersnail start off life as males and later become females and reproduce. Some oysters change or alternate their gender. Male one year, female the next!
  • The geoduck (pronounced "gooey-duck") clam is among the longest-living animals in the world. Geoducks have been found that lived to be 168 years old! The common name "geoduck" has a First Nation origin, meaning "dig deep," a reference to humans or sea otters digging them.
  • Most scallops swim (rock scallops are attached) through the water by clapping their shells and expelling water. They are known as swimming scallops or singing scallops!
  • When you pick up a sand dollar shell it rattles; inside are five teeth or jaw parts that are shaped like miniature birds.
  • The Haida people who live on Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands) tell a story about Raven setting the first people free into the world from a giant clam shell.


A shellfish quiz!

  1. What shellfish has a beard?
  2. What juvenile shellfish has a weight belt?
  3. What shellfish has a series of jewel-like eyes?
  4. What shellfish often lives to 100 years and more?
  5. What shellfish was important to sea otter hunters?
  6. What shellfish has a magnetic personality?
  7. What shellfish behaves as a bulldozer and a gardener? Traditionally, this shellfish was believed to be capable of calming heavy surf so fishermen could launch their boats and return to shore safely.
  8. Who is drilling holes in all of those clam shells?
  9. What shellfish appears heart-shaped from the side?
  10. What shellfish has the appearance of a "wandering meat loaf"?


Click to see if you got them right!