Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bent-nose memories.

Macoma nasuta, valves.

The interpreter was with a group of fifteen grade one students and their teacher, a young woman with wispy blond hair and an interesting nose. It came to a sharp point, but just before the tip was bent sharply to one side, like a plasticine nose tamped on the end. "This is called a heart cockle," the interpreter said, holding a thick, ribbed shell for all to see. "What other clams can you find on this mudflat?" They dispersed.

"Here’s one," said a little girl.

"That’s a Japanese Littleneck Clam," said the interpreter.

"What’s this one?" asked a little boy.

"That’s a Butter Clam," answered the interpreter.

"Here’s one," said a little girl.

"That’s a Soft-shelled Clam," said the interpreter.

"This one is purple!" said a different little girl.

"A Varnish Clam," said the interpreter.

"What’s this?" asked a little boy.

"A Native Littleneck Clam," said the interpreter. "See how it looks like the Japanese Littleneck Clam, but its edges are smoother." He crouched to place them side-by-side on the mud.

The teacher reached forward. "What’s this white one?" It was a mid-sized, white clam, bent strongly to one side at its narrower end. It was called a Bent-nose Clam.

The interpreter held it in his hand, and looked up at the teacher’s young face, at her bent nose.  What could he say?

"I don't know."


Bent-nose Clam.

The Bent-nose clam, Macoma nasuta, has white valves and grows to about three inches in length. The distinctive bend at the posterior end explains its common name. Unlike other mud-dwelling clams, instead of orienting itself vertically, the Bent-nose reclines on its side with the concave valve up. This directs the bend upward, and from there the incurrent and excurrent siphons extend toward the surface of the mud.

1 comment:

Kim Zuch said...

This one made me laugh! ...and somehow reminded me of the time I learned about geoducks...