Man and Mollusc's Data Base of Edible Molluscs

This data base is very much a works in progress. I have been working on this project over several years now and will be adding to it as information is found. If you know of a mollusc which is consumed and as yet not included in this data base,
I would appreciate hearing from you. (Avril Bourquin:)

Over the next couple of years (2006-2007), most external links will be transferred to my new
Man and Mollusc Directories. Consequently, I am looking for, or producing, a photo to be used for each species found in this listing. Thank you for your patience while this site is under renewal.



From the beginning of time, man's attitude towards molluscs has been: "if it is big enough and readily available, the animal may be eaten! Even smaller species were used if it did not take too much effort to get a sufficient amount of meat to be worthwhile".

Man's food choices have always depended on his history, culture, and environment. People eat molluscs not just for sustenance, but for enjoyment and medical purposes as well. Family, friends, cultures and beliefs play a major role in the way people select their foods and plan their meals.

To meet one's daily nutritional needs, man has relied on molluscs as they were usually a readily available food source. Molluscs, which are high in protein and trace minerals, have always filled a substantial portion of his diet. Mussel and oyster beds, clam-flats and other abundant shellfish have always provided an easy accessible source of food as has been seen in many archeological digs which have uncovered huge middens heavy with shells. Many of the terrestrial molluscs and fresh water molluscs have also been sought out and eaten.

I've heard it said: "I do not know of any mollusks known to be inherently toxic for consumption; but, some species might be more of a risk than others." The wrong molluscs or even the right mollusc eaten at the wrong time or prepared incorrectly can be a cause food poisoning , digestive problems, allergic reactions and even death. So eater BEWARE!

Some edible molluscs if not properly harvested (timing can be everything!) and prepared can also be quite toxic. Red tides affect many molluscs and should be understood before self harvesting any salt water molluscs. For more information on RED TIDE, go to your library or internet and learn the facts about Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning or PSP. One such site is by the Alaskan Division of Environmental health at:

Even freshwater molluscs can be hazardous. Such things as pfiesteria can be a condition affecting many shell fish. Visit a site such as: "WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PFIESTERIA and VIRGINIA'S WATERS at:".

Molluscs absorb heavy metals such as mercury and lead readily. Pesticides as well as other contaminants from land can leech into streams, shorelines and bays so it is wise to know what agriculture or industry is nearby. Many molluscs (most bivalves) are filter feeders and others are grazers and or carnivores. Pollutants can become quite concentrated (to the level of being toxic at times) in their meat. A good policy is to avoid harvesting any molluscs from any known polluted waters or unknown waters.

Food allergies are a serious concern. If you know that you have food allergies to other products, be very cautious when eating a mllousc for the first time and never consume raw molluscs. Start out with a very small amount of meat to see how and if you react before diving in for a BIG feed.

There are also other medical conditions that can be related to molluscs. I have listed many of these on my Molluscs and Medicine Page.


Here are a few basic guidlines to help you safely harvest and prepare molluscs.

1. Check with the locals in the area you wish to harvest. They generally know what, where, when and how to safely harvest molluscs in their area of the world. Find out the legalities involved locally as to which species are actualy allowed to be collected. Many species today are protected or at least have a minimnun bag limit. You don't want to become a law breaker and end up with a fine, or worse still, in jail when all you had in mind was enjoying a delightful dinner.

2. For marine and other aquatic molluscs species, a good rule of thumb is: do not eat those that are not covered by water at high tide!

3. Always keep any mollusc to be consumed alive and fresh. They should be quickly cooled, iced down then placed in a fridge as soon as possible. if to be stored know how long it is safe for that mollusc, better still find out how to clean and freeze them if possible. You should only consume known fresh, healthy specimens. If in doubt, throw it out!

4. Acquire known recipes and follow proper preparation methods for each species of mollusc you harvest for consumption. Some molluscs can be rather tough, requiring a lot preparation and cooking effort. Local residents are the ones to question as to how to correctly prepare any mollusc in question.
Knowing how to correctly prepare your snail can mean the difference in enjoying a tender morsel or having a meal with the consistancy of an old rubber inner tube, or worse still, having your dinner come back later to haunt you with gastric pains or worse.
As a general guide, molluscs can be steamed, boiled, fried or baked and they make excellent additions to chowders, stews and soups. But; Remember, tastes can vary greatly between cultures! Just because a local enjoys a feast of slugs, it doesn't mean you will too! It's all a matter of personal tastes!

5. Land snails require purging before they can be prepared safely. Go to Purging Snails for more information on this

Environmental Guidelines for Collecting Shellfish
  • Always collect from unpolluted areas, far away from large populations of people.
  • Do not disturb the natural areas any more than necessary.
  • Do not leave anything behind when you leave, ie. garbage. If you see garbage that someone has left behind, pick it up.
  • Do not gather anything from inside a park or protected area.
  • You usually need a license to gather any sea life. (Check your area for this rule)
  • Obey all signs about collecting shellfish, they warn about pollution and red tide.
  • Take only the seafoods that you need for a single meal at any one time.
  • If you encounter the females of any species, leave them alone.
  • Stick to "Bag limits" or if they don't exist, gather only 25-30% of any species of shellfish in a given area, and try to gather the most plentiful species only.


Table of Contents

Page 1
( A to C)
Page 2
( D to G )
Page 3
( H to Mac )
Page 4
( Mal to N )
Page 5
O )
Page 6
( P to Q )
Page 7
( R to S )
Page 8
( T )
Page 9
( U to Z )
Octopus & Squids
Terrestrials &
Freshwater Molluscs
Common Name Index

History of Mollusc Consumption
Article Feb.01, 2002

Recipes and / or Preparation Methods

Inedible Families & or Species
Regulatory Contacts
Conch-L Listserve Member Comments
UNIO Listserve
Member Comments
More Individual Sources of Information


Explanation of the table I use for listing the edible molluscs found in this section.

Countries where found and eaten
Recipes /
Other Links
Divided into families with the species being listed below and colour coded

Where on the internet you can see an image of this species





Where in the world this species is located and consumed




Is it
C: Commercialy Harvested for market

A: Raised as in aquaculture

H: raised as in heleciculture (Terrestrials)



I hope to be able to add more recipes
and /or preparations for some of the molluscs listed on
these pages. look for word Recipe and click to go there.

A URL will indicate on off site link to a recipe

Interesting or pertinent data about this species







Miscellaneous internet links giving information about this species






Bivalve Families
  Additional Information about this species.


Terms Used:


Miscellaneous Links to read more about this subject of Edible Molluscs


Edible Molluscs Articles
David Lubell
(A brief biography)

A prehistoric archaeologist, I taught for many years at the University of Alberta and am now attached to the University of Waterloo ( I have worked since the 1960s on the relationship between past human populations and the environment, especially with regard to the transition from hunting-gathering to food production in the circum-Mediterranean. From 1972-83 I directed a project in Algeria on "Prehistoric Cultural Ecology of Capsian Escargotières" in which we tried to understand why people who lived there between about 10,000 and 6,000 years ago, seem to have depended so heavily on land snails for food. The two papers included here are part of that project.

Dr David Lubell
Department of Anthropology
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1

Dr. David Lubell has kindly allowed me (Man and Molusc - Avril Bourquin) to link up to two fabulous articles he has written;
I am presently having problems with the pdf files not loading correctly. Click on link - allow to load- go back to article page- reclick on the link the article will be there. I have been seeking assistance as to the masteries of this problem Avril Bourquin Thank you for your patience. In the meantime, to avoid the above proceedure, you may use the secondary "off site" link is available - see Secondary pdf file source at bottom of abstract.

1. David Lubell (2004) Prehistoric edible land snails in the circum-Mediterranean: the archaeological evidence. In, J.-P. Brugal and J. Desse (eds.), Petits Animaux et Sociétés Humaines: du Complément Alimentaire aux Ressources Utilitaires, XXIVe Rencontres Internationales d'Archéologie et d'Histoire d'Antibes. Éditions APDCA, Antibes, pp. 77-98.

Abstract - Edible land snails are often abundant in late Pleistocene and Holocene archaeologicalsites (c. 10000 to c. 6000 BP) throughout the Mediterranean region. This chapter, the firstattempt to summarize the evidence, argues that in almost every instance the land snails found in occupational deposits are the remains of prehistoric meals.

Secondary pdf file source:

2. David Lubell (2004) Are land snails a signature for the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition?
In, M. Budja (ed.), The Neolithization of Eurasia - paradigms, models and concepts involved, Neolithic Studies 11, Documenta Praehistorica XXXI: 1-24.

Abstract - Edible land snails, representing food remains, are frequently very abundant in late Pleistocene and early-middle Holocene archaeological sites throughout the circum-Mediterranean region. As such, they appear to represent a signature for a broad spectrum subsistence base as first conceived by Flannery in 1969, and therefore must be in some way related to the transition from foraging to food production. This paper investigates the implications that can be drawn from the presence of these snails through information on their ecology, biology, behaviour and nutritional value as well as the behaviour of the prehistoric human groups who collected and consumed them.
Secondary pdf file source:



Good "Mostly" Non Commercial Content Links on Shellfish
  • Aquaculture Solutions : In 2004 we began to establish this site as a tool for exposing the best commercial products and alternatives for aquaculture. We are quickly approaching our initial target levels in site ranking and traffic performance and it is now time to establish the next level goal.

  • AquaFind, an internernational fish database: "Aquafind is an aquatic directory that allows users unrestricted access, free of charge, to search for aquatic species suppliers, aquaculture equipment suppliers, or aquaculture service suppliers."

  • BC Seafood Online (joint government and commercial; British Columbia, Canada) "British Columbia’s seafood industry is one of the largest primary industries and remains a vital element in both the economic success of the province and the social fabric of many communities. "

  • Canada: Shellfish Water Quality Protection Program

  • DermoWatch is a SeaGrant project which estimates a time to a critical level of the oyster parasite Perkinsus marinus, commonly called "Dermo".

  • Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory (US): "The Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory (HSRL), located at Bivalve and Cape Shore on the Delaware Bay, is a New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) and a field station for the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences (IMCS) both located at Cook College, Rutgers University."

  • The Institute of Marine Biology of Crete (IMBC)

  • Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC): "The Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) was formed in 1982 to foster and promote shellfish sanitation through the cooperation of state and federal control agencies, the shellfish industry, and the academic community."

  • Marine Biological Lab Marine Species Database

  • National Shellfisheries Association is an international organization of scientists, management officials and members of industry, all deeply concerned with the biology, ecology, production, economics and management of shellfish resources - clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, snails, shrimp, lobsters, crabs, among many other species of commercial importance

  • Seafood Network Information Center (Seafood NIC): UC Davis


  • Seabed Processes Consultancy:Marine and Aquaculture Consultants: "Seabed Processes Consultancy specialises in marine and aquaculture consulting throughout the world, with a focus on shellfish fisheries in the shallow water coastal environment and the effects of fishing on the environment. With 42 years of knowledge and practice in the industry, Seabed Processes Consultancy can offer invaluable advice to clients...."

  • Shellfish Association of Great Britain: "To assist and promote the development of the shellfish industry in the United Kingdom."

  • U. S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition: Interstate Certified Shellfish* Shippers List

  • U.S. NCSU Water Quality and Shellfish


Aquaculture Links
Now on my new Man and Mollusc Directory: Commercial Food Page


Commercial ShellFish Links


Heliciculture Links
Now on my new Man and Mollusc Directory: Commercial Food Page


Books on Aquaculture and/ or Heliciculture
  • Molluscan Shellfish Farming by Brian Spenser Publication date will be Oct. 2002. Book available for purchase through "Iowa State Press" a Blackwell Publishing Company


Miscellaneous Information



Data Base initiated Decemner 29, 2001


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