venus clams

  Gafrarium pectinatum
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Relevant Synonyms
Venus pectinata Linnaeus, 1758
Crista pectinata Pallary, 1912


 photo: S. Gofas / Coll. G. Spada    

Shell medium sized, slightly laterally compressed. Outline subovate distinctly longer than high with umbones towards the anterior part. Sculpture of nodulose radial ribs; asymmetrical ribs on the posterior slope where they change direction and are obliquely placed in relation to the central ribs; the divaricate ribs of the posterior slope are concentrically striae from the top to the bottom and concentric grooves continue into the symmetrical radial ribs near the ventral margin. Narrow heart-shaped lunule. No pallial sinus. Inner margin crenulate.

color : exteriorly white to cream occasionally spotted upon the radial ribs with brown, lunule stained with purple underneath the beaks. Internally white with a cream flush within the pallial line area, ligament stained with violet.

common size : shell to 50 mm in length.

Similar in size and outline to G. tumidum but differs in the following features: the radial ribs are coarser and more frequently bifid towards the ventral margin; the granules upon the radial ribs are larger and more distant from each other; the concentric striae are more prominent (Cernohorsky, 1972).

It lives for up to 3 years with low levels of recruitment taking place in two phases, in spring and autumn. Gametogenic cycles confirm this picture. Matures at a shell length 16-20 mm, after one year of life. Generally it is a dioecious species with sex rato about 1:1.

habitat : intertidal and shallow water; muddy gravels and sands.

1st Mediterranean record
Egypt, 1905 [no collecting date].

Worldwide: tropical Pacific, Indian Ocean and Red Sea; recorded in the Suez Canal (Keller, 1883). Mediterranean: recorded first from Port Said, Egypt (Tillier and Bavay, 1905); Sinai (Barash and Danin, 1973); southern Turkey (Lindner, 1987); Israel (Mienis, 1999d); Lebanon (Bitar and Kouli-Bitar, 1999).

Well established in Israel: in the last 10 years, its status has changed from an occasional Indo-Pacific immigrant to a successful Lessepsian coloniser; now a common species along the shallow subtidal of Israel (Fishelson, 2000).

speculated reasons for success :

Via the Suez Canal.

Sold in the market at Alexandria (Pallary, 1912).


  • Bitar G. and Kouli-Bitar S., 1999. Inventaire des mollusques marins benthiques du Liban et remarques bigéographiques sur quelques espèces nouvellement signalées. Mésogée, 56: 37-44.
  • Fishelson L., 2000. Marine animal assemblages along the littoral of the Israeli Mediterranean seashore: The Red-Mediterranean Seas communities of species. Italian Journal of Zoology, 67(3): 393-415.
  • Keller C., 1883. Die Fauna im Suez Kanal und die Diffusion der mediterranen und erythräischen Thierwelt. Neue Denkschriften der Allgemeinen Schwiezerischen Gesellschaft für Naturwissenschaften, Zürich, 28(3): 1-39, pl. 1-2.


  • Lindner G., 1987. Interessante Schneckenfunde an der südtürkischen Mittelmeerküste (Reisemitbringsel der Familie Schmidt, Feldkirchen). Club Conchylia Informationen, 19(3-4): 32-43.
  • Mienis H.K., 1999d. On the presence of the Indo-Pacific bivalve Gafrarium pectinatum (Linnaeus, 1758) along the Mediterranean coast of Israel. Club Conchylia Informationen, 31(1/2): 37.


Last update : January 2005

©ciesm 2002