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cockle in substrate
two live cockles nestled into substrate

About cockles

The most common cockle found in Oregon is the "Heart cockle". This common name relates to its scientific name Clinocardium nuttallii. Translated from Latin this name means "Nutall's sloping heart". The species name "Nuttallii" comes from the person who first described the species. Thomas Nuttall was a well respected botanist, orinthologist, and explorer of the 19th century. While exploring the Pacific Northwest in an 1830s expedition, the heart cockle was among the specimens he collected and described. Those familiar with taxonomy will likely recognize his surname from several species of flowers and birds.

Species profile

heart cockle

The genus name "Clinocardium" meaning "sloping heart" explains itself very easily when a cockle is seen upright in the substrate.

cockle feeding

Cockles are "hard shelled" clams. Because of the protection of their stout shells, they do not have to bury as deeply as other common bay clams. Larger cockles can even be found feeding unburied.

Cockles are one of few bay clams that are known to move horizontally through the estuary. They are actually quite fast movers by bending their highly developed muscular foot then quickly straighening it out to "pop" as far as a foot or two at a time.

cockle bed

Good cockle beds will often have cockles right on top at a good tide.

cockle neck

Cockle necks have many tentacles, and the inside of their siphons can be variable in color and patttern.




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