Man and Mollusc's Data Base of Edible Molluscs
Conch-L Listserve Comments

There is no specific order to the dates or comments listed on this page. The list is alphabetized by the sender's last name only. If I have used your comment/s and as yet have not asked for your permissiom, please forgive and contact me at


Dr. David Campbell

Letter #1 of interest

In general, if it is big enough the animal may be eaten, and even smaller species might be used if it is not too much effort to get a sufficient amount of meat to be worthwhile. I do not know of any mollusks known to be inherently toxic for consumption, but some nudibranchs take up stinging cells from the cnidarians they eat, and certain species might be more of a risk than others for food poisoning. Some also can be rather tough, requiring a lot of cooking effort.

Mollusca: The Southern Synthesis reports excessive harvesting of oyster reefs (dead or alive) for lime as an historical problem, but I believe most modern non-shellcraft industrial use of shells (for gravel, antacids, lime in mortar or cement, etc.) relies on shells harvested for other purposes.

It is cheaper to offer to take away what the fishermen are dumping than to dredge for yourself.


Letter #2 of interest

I have a set of articles on human-mollusk interaction, the author of which I do not remember. One potential hazard of eating large chitons and other large grazers is that the radulas may be indigestible. Eating too many may produce the equivalent of a rather rough hairball, which is not good for the tummy.

Information added Dec. 04, 2001: "The radula story is from a two part article by Alan Solem on mollusks and health... It is indirectly supported by the radulas left by the locals along with chiton and Cittarium shells that I saw on San Salvador Island, Bahamas."


Letter #3 of interest: OK, this one is about brachiopods, but I thought that it was very interesting and close enough, so I included it! (Avril Bourquin)

Do not eat articulate brachiopods. This can provide a useful proof of the advantages of having some knowledge of conchology. I heard a story about a biologist in the Puget Sound area who was collecting with a non-biologist friend. He found one of the local articulates and tried to explain the difference between bivalves and brachiopods. The friend derided this as intellectual pretension, swallowed it raw to prove his point, and turned somewhat green.

Inarticulate brachipods, however, are not unusual as a human dietary item in Asia. Brachiopods are moderately distant relatives of mollusks. Along with annelids and other, more obscure, worms, plus a few other phyla, the molllusks and brachipods make up the group Trochozoa or Lophotrochozoa. Arthropods, nematodes and certain other worms are more distant relatives, as is the echinoderm-vertebrate group.

I believe that some of the Field Guide to the Seashore types of books have the common Newfoundland brachiopod identified in them. My books are at home.

Recent workers have found differences between the earliest lingulide brachiopods and more modern ones, so Lingula is not quite so long-lived as many references claim. It still has respectable antiquity, but many protobranch bivalve genera are probably at least as old.

Dr. David Campbell
"Old Seashells"
Department of Geological Sciences
CB 3315 Mitchell Hall
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill NC 27599-3315 USA, 919-962-0685, FAX 919-966-4519

"He had discovered an unknown bivalve, forming a new genus"-E. A. Poe, The
Gold Bug


From Dr. David Campbell December 04, 2001 privately and not n Conch-L:

"Miscellaneous additional notes: Many species of mollusks have been used as food by local cultures.

Gary Rosenberg's Encyclopedia of Seashells has some discussion of this.

Tridacna spp. and Codakia sp. are the ones I immediately recall seeing in the market in the Philippines. I have an article in a Philippine journal on commecially important bivalves; I will try to remember to look it up.

The Vokes at Tulane have a paper on archaeological mollusks from Yucatan, including both food and ceremonial use.

Here along the east coast of the U.S., huge mounds of oyster shells are not uncommon, evidently popular with native and colonist alike. Although some archaeologists have thought that finding closed bivalve shells indicated strictly ceremonial use, some species open when cooked and close when cooled.

Dr. David Campbell
Old Seashells
46860 Hilton Dr #1113
Lexington Park MD 20653 USA

That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at Droigate Spa

















































Marian E Havlik

I'd never eat a UNIONID (freshwater mussel) today, unless I was starving. Remember, they filter anything that comes past them, so unless I could "cleanse" them in running tap water for about a week, I sure wouldn't eat them, unless I was very sure of where they came from (agricultural runoff, cattle in streams etc). People often ask me about this. Even the local poison control center has called me a number of times. I've been told they're tough, and that the best way to cook them is to chop/grind them up in chowder. Regardless, I'd prefer to eat the adductors ("scallops"), but have never done so. For the same reasons, I don't eat oysters or marine mussels.

Marian E Havlik
Malacological Consultants
1603 Mississippi Street
La Crosse, WI 54601-4969
Phone/Fax: 608.782.7958










Dr. Patty Jansen

Here, you get the ordinary mussels (Perna viridis), oysters, 'clams' (some type of venerid), pipis (Donax deltiodalis, although these are more frequently used for bait than human consumption), Tonna variegata and relatives, abalone (number of species), and I have seen people eat Turbos, and (although they are not shells) the insides of sea urchins.

Dr. Patty Jansen

  • Mussels
    • Perna viridis
  • oysters
  • clams' (some type of venerid)
  • pipis (Donax deltiodalis, although these are more frequently used for bait than human consumption)
  • Tonna variegata and relatives
  • abalone (number of species)
  • Turbos











David Kirsh

Letter 1:

Dear mussel lovers and experts,

Perna viridis Linne. It's been on my mind. It's an important commercial foodsource in Asia.

I have a valve I found on a reef in the Phuket Sea in Thailand. It's approximately 17.5cm in length; huge. Kev Lamprell is certain that it's an undescribed species. Others believe it's likely to be a very mature Perna viridis and that mature specimens are not commonly encountered because they're harvested much earlier.

A simple way of eliminating the P. viridis possibility would be if there's data on how large it grows--record size. Surely in all the literature about an important commercial species, there is something about maximum size. A cursory search in very recent literature at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences reveals nothing.

Anybody have data?

David Kirsh


Letter #2 of interest: OK, this one is about brachiopods, but I thought that it was very interesting and close enough, so I included it! (Avril Bourquin)

Shellfish eaters,

I had my first taste of brachiopods in Thailand when I rode on the back of a
motorcycle on the island of Ko Yao Noi.

My guide, Bu Pha, took me to the stilt house of a friend. She motioned to me to try eating something from a metal bowl. In the bowl, it looked like a pile of dirty fingernails with worms coming from the center. She opened one and ate it raw. I did likewise. I preferred accepting that hospitality to drinking the local water offered to me. Not bad.

Has anyone else tried brachiopods, raw or otherwise? Can they be eaten
without destroying the shell?

David Kirsh
Durham, NC























José H. Leal, Ph.D.

Culinary conchology (malacology?) is one of my favorite topics (it's almost lunch time here). The whole scallop animal is customarily eaten in dishes from the N Mediterranean cuisine sensu latu (i.e., France, Spain, Portugal, and global ramifications of these cultures) and possibly in many other areas of the world where folks are more culturally oriented toward consumption of seafood. The whole thing tastes just like... scallop! I enjoyed a great dish of (many, whole) _Argopecten purpuratus_ baked in a sauce of garlic butter and cream while in Coquimbo, Chile (E Pacific) last year. No, you won't find this in Red Lobster!

José H. Leal, Ph.D.
Director, The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum
Editor-in-chief, THE NAUTILUS
3075 Sanibel-Captiva Road
Sanibel, FL 33957 USA
(941) 395-2233; fax (941) 395-6706










Harry G. Lee

In April, 1987 I read an account in a Kotakinabalu (insular Malaysia) newspaper of a family who ate an unspecified number of an Oliva species harvested from shallow N. W. Borneo waters and became ill as a result. At least one fatality was attributed to poisoning. The report sounded quite authoritative. I doubt that this was paralytic shellfish poisoning (dinoflagellate contamination).

There is a substance called "saxitoxin" which accounts for human illness following the consumption of certain Neptunea species occurring in Japanese waters. It is localized in the salivary glands of these snails.

Likewise, Mediterranean muricid snails and relatives have a salivary toxin known to cause human illness, even death, after ingestion (yet many, many people eat these shellfish without ill effects). This is murexine, which is chemically better studied than most marine biotoxins. It's very closely associated with the purple pigment of Phoenician maritime commerce, etc.

Also the Mediterranean sea hare has been incriminated in human poisoning since Pliny's report in the first century A. D. Again, the toxin is associated with the salivary apparatus and probably is important in predation.

Abalone viscera, at least in Japan, have caused human illness after ingestion.

I guess the best strategy for the human molluscivore is to leave snail viscera on the plate if there is any question as to safety. I, for one, have eaten dozens of marine snail species but never felt the slightest urge to eat any parts but the mantle and foot.

Added December 01, 2001: The following comment:
The clam Tagelus plebeius (John Lightfoot, 1786), the Stout Tagelus, is a delicacy, called “longironi” in the Minorcan community of St. Augustine, Florida.

Harry G. Lee
Suite 500
1801 Barrs St.
Jacksonville, FL 32204
USA 904-384-6419
Visit the Jacksonville Shell Club Home Page at:

oo .--. oo .--. oo .--.
\\(____)_ \\(____)_ \\(____)_
`~~~~~~~` `~~~~~~~` `~~~~~~~`






















Bob Lipe

I'm one of those people that make a living with seashells. I just want to say that I know a lot of the mollusk are used for food. I wished they all could be, but not so. Anyway, We have about 12 different Scallops in our bins that are used for food, and then for craft. The Livona pica "Magpie" in the Caribbean are used for food and then the shells are sent to Mexico to be polished and sent back to the states to sell in shops. More of these food shells are being done this way now. In the Bahamas not only do you see large piles of pink conchs, but many discared Livona pica.

One word to ..... I think the Cassis cornuta is protected now. Tom, do you know if any of the shells that you mentioned are eaten? And ..... you mentioned many shells but no mention of a food supply. What shell animals do you think are eaten out of your large list. I know that many are. I am told the the Large Murex ramosus out of Thailand are eaten. I can't prove it.

There is a need for some control on shells and shelling, but the way it's going, people in high places that don't know and haven't done much research are placing bans on shells. Some are needed. More research is needed and then the regulation would make more sense, like on the fish. They can still be caught, but within limits. There are some people that want shelling banned altogether. I know that you are reading this, and thinking that I am trying to save my business. True up to a point, but I was a and still am a collected first and then I started selling
shells. I can put in Tee shirts and ball hats etc. if all the shells become protected. The people that really know don't get involved. I think that what I'm always been interested in is what shell animals are eaten and which ones aren't. Many years ago we had a lady in our Shell Club that tried eating almost every shell animal found in our area, as a research project. She's still alive.

Bob Lipe
Check us out at our Website:
The Shell Store
348 Corey Ave
St. Pete Beach 33706
Phone: 727-360-0586 FAX: 727-360-3668
















Ross Mayhew

Pectinidae are my all-time favorite family so far as shells go, but i picked up a few things from the fishermen i used to go out on wild adventures with regarding their culinary aspects as well. For our Placopecten magellanicus, and no doubt some other Pecten spp as well, the adductor muscle is the only part of the beast that doesn't present the possibility of poisoning, from paralytic shellfish poison (ie, demoic acid secreted by dinoflagellates, i think - is this correct?), which is the "dark side" of eating mollusc-flesh. When Placopecten is grown in "cultured" surroundings, where it pick up the Paralytic shellfish poison bug, it is often eaten as oysters are - "down the hatch", whole!!, or just sold as a whole animal for consumption.

Bon Apetit,
Ross Mayhew: Schooner Specimen Shells:
"We Specialize in the Unusual"
Phone: (902) 876-2241; Fax: (603) 909-8552.
But try to find "something for Everyone"!!
Snail Mail: 349 Herring Cove Rd, P.O Box 20005, Halifax, N.S., Canada,
B3R 2K9.











Paul Monfils

Letter #1 of interest

While we are still engrossed in culinary conchology, let me ask a question I have always wondered about. In the "clam" tribe and the "mussel" tribe, we eat everything but the shell. Yet in the many species of the "scallop" tribe that are used as human food, only one small piece, the adductor muscle that holds the two shell valves together, is eaten. This seems like an awful waste. Why is this so? Is it simply (as someone mentioned earlier) that the rest of a scallop just doesn't taste good?
Paul M.


Letter #2 of interest

Busycon (carica and canaliculatum) are used in a tasty dish available at many restaurants and delis in this area. The english name is snail salad. It has an Italian name too, but if I try it I'll probably pick the wrong one. It's a mixture of thin-sliced Busycon meat (primarily the foot) with spices, vinegar, onions, celery, and probably a few things I don't know about. I believe the meat is marinated, but that's about all I know of it. I eat it but I don't make it.
Paul M.








Bob & Rosemary Nuelle

When I traveled in Hong Kong back in 1998 the seafood restaurants offered the following species for dinner. You selected your entree from a large number of tanks arranged in 3 high tiers and then they cooked them up for you.


  • Scallops and pectens at least three different varieties.
    • Amusium japonica
    • Pecten pyxidata [tentative]
    • Chlamys senatoria [tentative]
  • Oyster
    • Crassostrea gigas - [tentative]
  • Volutidae
    • Melo melo - Indian Volute
    • Melo miltonis - tentative ID - I didn't get to buy one of these
  • Strombus
    • Strombus goliath - delicacy - very few available
  • Muricidae
    • Rapa venosa - Thomas's Rock Shell
  • Bursidae
    • Bursa elegans - Elegant Frog Shell
Bob & Rosemary
The UniverShell Trading Company
3523 Beech Hill Drive
Spring, TX 77388

















Rafael María Puertas Rey: (Fali )

I've been to the fish market in Málaga today. Just to have a look. I've been 'lucky': among the quite common and often sold Dosinia exoleta, I could find Arcopagia crassa, Laevicardium oblongum, L. crassum, Acanthocardia paucicostata and Glycymeris pilosa.

But that's not really the point.

Suddenly, the strong voice of a fishmonger called my attention. ¡Caracolas! -he shouted. Then, an even stronger "Alive, from Málaga!" followed. I turned back my head, and what did I find? Surprisingly, the famous, 'protected' Charonia lampas. Mediterranean, no doubt. (If we asume Málaga is a Mediterranean city.)

They were sold by the dozens at four fish shops, and hardly any of them reached six inches (15 cm)!

Years ago, some of the items sold measured nearly twelve inches, or even more. In general terms, the average was almost the double in lenght.

So, we have here the old controversy again. If this species is in danger and thus must be protected, who is to blame then? Collectors? Not really. Many people at the market place were buying them: they wouldn't say no to the chance of enjoying this delicacy.

I wasn't able to utter a single word ("Protected...?!" -they would laugh at me, obviously), took my humble bivalves and my thoughtful way back home.

All the best,

  • Dosinia exoleta
  • Arcopagia crassa
  • Laevicardium oblongu
  • L. crassum
  • Acanthocardia paucicostata
  • Glycymeris pilosa
  • Charonia lampas ( supposedly 'protected' in the Mediterranean)



















E. Guillot de Suduiraut

Personaly,I eaten C. gloriamaris and I feel very well !

We eat any kind of Conus including C.gloriamaris. But the best dish is Pectinidae with garlic and little butter cooked in the oven.

E. Guillot de Suduiraut
Shells of Philippines
P.O. Box 184 Lapu-Lapu City
CEBU Philippines 6015

Tel/Fax : +63 (32) 495-1032










Sophie Valtat

Letter #1 of Interest

I must confess I've never paid attention to pickled molluscs, I do remember mussels that's all. French people are not so found of pickles. I think even the mussels are in white wine, not vinegar.About periwinkles, sure we do eat Littorina littorea very often. It's called here "bigorneau". You can almost always find them in the fish shops. To boil them in salted water, it very quickly done and so tasty !


Letter #2 of Interest

Well, as the only French girl around (am I ?) I feel I have to answer .... !

To prepare snails you have first to starve (jeûner) them. I must confess I've never done it myself, but I've seen my grandmother doing it. So, that's what she used to do:

In the garden she had a little paddock (enclosure) where she put the snails she was able to find. When there were enough snails (a minimum is 12 per person), she stops feeding them for a week "nobody knows what they could have eaten" and them feed them with flour for a few days "to be fatty". Then she put them in the salt till they stop drooling, clean them and cook them in a court bouillon (water, white wine, parsley, little garlic, onion, thyme, salt, pepper...). When you can take them out of the shell,they are cooked. Take them off, eliminate the entrails, the brown part at the end (if you leave it, it's bitter) and the operculum. The first part is over.

You have then to mix butter (take it out of the refrigerator one hour before) chopped garlic and parsley, little salt, pepper. When your butter is ready, put little butter in a shell, a snail and butter again. You must then put the snails on a special plate in order to have the aperture up (if you don't have it, you always find a way !), put everything in a hot oven in order to have the snails grilled, be careful, if they stay to long they will be "ratatinés" (shriveled up). Ouf, it's ready !

Eat them with good bread and dry white wine.

To answer your question, yes it still have the taste of snails which is delicious ! They are several other way to accommodate snails. Last weekend I eat some in a restaurant from the south of France, they where not put back in shells but sautés (cooked in a pan) with little vegetables.

They are other kinds of shells you can accommodate the way my grand mother did, mostly bivalves. Two weeks ago I've done palourdes farcies (stuffed), may I say it was more interesting than the snails? It's much easier because you don't have to starve the animal, just fish them if you are in Bretagne, or have a good "poissonnier" (the guy who sells the fish). Then you do a kind of garlic butter slightly different than the one my grand mother did and melted (fondu), foamy. Put it on each palourdes you've just open, add little almond powder and take it a few minutes to the grill. There is something magic in this recipe because the sea is still so present.

If you want the exact proportions for both recipes, let me know,


PS : I don't think the reason why my grand mother have less and less snail in her garden comes from her consumption but from the use of pesticide in order to save her salad from slugs (not eatable, in France !). In Paris, sometimes you can buy alive snails in the market, they come from breedings.


Letter #3 of Interest

I'm afraid French people use to eat not only the muscle but also the orange part of the scallop, at least when we cook them (we don't eat this part raw). For the rest of the animal... I'll try and let you know !


There is no problem to use anything I've send on the Conch list ! About cooking, if you are interested in I can write something more precise on French way to eat molluscs. We eat them rather often and I can give some family recipes and some more I use to do for mussels, oysters, palourdes (clams)(Tapes), cockles, amandes (almonds)(Glycymeris), scallops, bulots (buccinum), bigorneaux(winkles) (L. littorea)... Just tell me !

Sophie Valtat
Email: sophie@VALTAT.ORG




































Frank Walker contacted

Years ago (1970's) when I was just a collector I was on a trip to the Philippines. I asked the Philippino I was with, if the natives ate any of the shells. He said, almost all were eaten. When I asked which were not, he said the egg cowrie. When I asked why not, he said they didn't taste good. See how simple life is! It all comes down to if it taste's good or not.

Gems From The Sea
72 Peltier Street, Marlborough, MA 01752 USA
"Quality Specimen Shells For Every Collector"


Emmanuel ___________________ to be contacted 11 Apr 2000 or
Helmut Nisters??

I'm a bit confused as to the author/s of this entry. I'm unable to trace it

The Italians eat all the animal(in regards to scallops). Very good grilled. Pecten jacobaes is a specialiy. Like veal. Then you can get Mytilus galloprovincialis, Mytilus edulis, Ostreidae, Veneridae, Callista chione, Chamelea gallina, eg. It's nice to go to fishmarkets and you will find a lot of edible species.

Few days a go I was in Balicasag and I have an opportunity to eat Acesta rathbuni and Siratus alabaster, the Acesta was absolutely delicious like scallop. The alabaster the taste is ok but like a rubberband.


  • Pecten jacobaes is a specialiy. Like veal
  • Mytiliidae:
    • Mytilus galloprovincialis,
    • Mytilus edulis
  • Ostreidae
  • Veneridae
  • Callista chione
  • Chamelea gallina
  • Acesta rathbuni: absolutely delicious like scallop
  • Siratus alabaster: the taste is ok but like a rubberband






Short Comments
In Okinawa, green snail is eaten in various ways and is considered to be superior to abalone
Ceviche or seviche is best known as a dish made from fish, but Lambis truncata is often prepared in a very similar manner in Egypt--cut into thin strips, and marinated for a few hours in lime juice, onions and garlic. Delicious! But I still think it's tough!
In Venezuela they eat just about anything except Cypraea mus.
With a clam, just cook it and eat it as is -- no need to discard anything but the shell.


Is there a website for health advisories on clams/shellfish in
particular localities?


This page was last completely edited
November , 2001
If you have a site you would like to see added to this or any other of Man and Mollusc Link pages;
PLEASE notify me

This is a new counter system set up by Globel on
December 01, 2002