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Phylum Mollusca > Class Bivalvia
Surf clams
Family Donacidae
updated May 2020
Where seen? The clam or its empty shells are sometimes seen on some of our shores. The dead bivalves look like butterflies. These clams are quick shallow burrowers in sandy shores in surf. They are sometimes also called Donax clams.

Features: 2-3cm. Donax clams have a two-part shell. The shell is rather triangular, generally smooth with very fine grooves. In dead clams, the inside is sometimes purplish.

Surfer dudes! Surf clams actually do surf the waves! They migrate up and down the shore by floating with the waves and then rapidly burying themselves with their strong foot. By doing so, they are able to move up and down the shore with the tides thus exploiting food found in the different shore zones. This also helps them avoid predators such as Moon snails (Family Naticidae).

What do they eat? They are suspension or deposit feeders.

Human uses:
Some are collected for food by coastal dwellers. In the Philippines, one species is collected in fairly large quantities.

Changi, Oct 10

Surf clams on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Family Donacidae recorded for Singapore
from Tan Siong Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary Checklist of The Molluscs of Singapore.

  Family Donacidae
  Donax cuneatus
Donax faba

  • Donax cuneatus and Donax faba on SeaLife Base: Technical fact sheet.
  • Family Donacidae in the Bivalves section by J.M. Poutiers in the FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes: The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific Volume 1: Seaweeds, corals, bivalves and gastropods on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) website.
  • Tan SK & Low MEY (2013) Singapore Mollusca: 3. The Family Donacidae (Bivalvia: Veneroida: Tellinoidea). Nature in Singapore, 6: 257–263.
  • Tan Siong Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary Checklist of The Molluscs of Singapore (pdf), Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore.
  • Tan, K. S. & L. M. Chou, 2000. A Guide to the Common Seashells of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp.
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