Quahog Facts, FAQ & Pictures ~ All About the Quahog, Hard Clam

by Bob

in Sea Life

The quahog is a hard -shelled clam that is found in the muddy flats along the eastern seaboard from Canada to Florida. They are most concentrated in the area between Cape Cod and New Jersey. RI is considered the epicenter of quahog country and is responsible for 25% of the annual U.S. catch.



Here are some facts and FAQ on the quahog:

What are other names for the quahog?
Hard clam, littleneck, cherrystone, hard-shell clam.

How do you pronounce quahog?

What is the origin of the name, quahog?
Their name, “quahog,” is a variation of “poquauhock,” (po-qua-hock), which is what the Wampanoag Indians originally called it.

What are quahogs?
They are hard-shelled clams. A bi-valve mollusk that has 2 separate shell halves that close via a hinge while the animal lives inside.

Is the quahog the same as the ocean quahog?
No. They are different species.

What is the scientific name for the quahog?
Mercenaria mercenaria

What is the scientific name for the Ocean quahog?
Arctica islandica

Ocean Quahog

Ocean Quahog – notice how it’s rounder and darker than a quahog.
“Arctica islandica valves”, by © Hans Hillewaert.

How big do quahogs get?
1-5 inches and weigh over a pound.

How long can quahogs live out of water?
Probably 2-3 days by by closing very tightly to conserve water and oxygen.

Are quahogs edible?
Yes, they are very  popular in seafood dishes like chowders, on the half-shell, and processed into stuffies which are essentially clam meatloafs. The smaller the quahog, the more tender it is.

What are stuffies?
Stuffies or stuffed clams are a bread stuffing, minced quahog mixture that is baked on the half shell and then eaten with a fork. Other ingredients used include sausage, onions, celery, green peppers. There are many variations.



How are quahogs classified in terms of harvesting?

  • Count Neck: The smallest clam legal to harvest. 1 inch and 1 7/8 inches.
  • Little Neck: 1 7/8 and 2 1/8 inches. Eaten raw or cooked on the half shell.
  • Top Neck: 2 1/8 inches to 2 3/8 inches. Linguine with clams is a popular dish with them.
  • Cherrystones: 2 3/8 and 3 1/8 inches. Mainly for chowder.
  • Quahog: 3 1/8 inches. Mainly used for stuffed quahogs and chowder.

How long do quahogs live?
Little necks are about 4 years old. Cherrystones are about 8 years old. Quahogs can live for 60 years.

What do quahogs eat?
Like all mollusks, quahogs are filter feeders. They suck in water, filter out the small tiny plants called phytoplankton, then eject the water. A large quahog can filter a gallon of water per hour.

Here is a video depicting the filter-feeding action of small clams with the use of food dye:

Was wampum made from quahog shells?
Yes, along with the shells of sea snails. They were fashioned into shell beads and used as money by Native Americans.

Did quahogs save the original Mayflower pilgrims from starvation?

What are some quahog predators?

  • Sea snails and oyster drills
  • Seagulls and other water birds
  • Sea stars
  • Crabs
  • Skates and rays
  • Humans

How are quahogs harvested?
They are harvested from shore or from small boats. Using long rakes, the shellfishermen scrape along the muddy bottom catching handfuls of quahogs which they put in onion bag type sacks, bushel baskets or 5-gallon buckets to eat for themselves or sell to buyers.

What is the quahog life cycle?
They spawn when the water temperature reaches 73F. Males release sperm which triggers the release of eggs by any local females. After a day, the larvae attach themselves to sea grass or any stationary object where they continue to grow until they are too heavy and fall to the seafloor where they burrow into the mud and remain their entire lives with some movement using their muscular foot.

How deep do quahogs burrow?
3-4 inches in the summer and 6 inches in the winter

Are quahogs endangered?
No, as their harvesting is regulated.

Do quahogs produce pearls?
Yes, but they are extremely rare as most processing methods destroy them.

Quahog Clam Facts-quahog clam-quahog-

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