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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fish Bulletin No. 4. The Edible Clams, Mussels and Scallops of California

  • Author(s): Weymouth, Frank W
  • et al.

The present paper has two purposes. First, it is an attempt to estimate the economic importance to the state of the bivalves here treated by putting on record the extent and position of the available mollusk producing grounds, the number and abundance of the edible species, and by contributing to a knowledge of their life histories lay the foundation for such protective legislation as may in the future be found necessary. Secondly, it proposes to make available to the camper and amateur naturalist a means of identifying the more common and important bivalves. During the last few years several agencies, chief among which are the development of the automobile and the extension of good roads, have greatly increased the number of people reaching the woods, the mountains and the sea. The campers at the seashore should realize the possibilities of food in the clams, mussels and other bivalves of the California coast, for these animals are at their best when freshly taken. It is hoped that the key and the figures here presented will enable any one to recognize the forms met with on this coast and that the accounts of their habits and use will make it possible to find and to utilize a source of food now distinctly neglected. By directing the attention of the camper to the interesting adaptations and beauties of these little known animals, his pleasure in the great out of doors will be correspondingly increased. Nearly five hundred species of bivalves are known from the west coast of America north of Mexico. Many of these are, of course, too small or too rare to be of possible food value. The following key will serve to identify the forms treated in the present paper, which includes, it is believed, all those to be met with in the markets or likely to be dug for food, but it must be remembered that many others, usually less abundant or less conspicuous, will be found on this coast. As far as known this is the first key to the bivalves of the coast that has been published and the task of selection has proved to be a difficult one.

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