Abalone, Vancouver Island, BCThe northern abalone is quite beautiful. They have thin shells, oval, with a greenish upper surface, sometimes marked with red, blue, or white. They tend to be covered with various organisms. The interior is like the mother-of-pearl in color but with a faint pink and green sheen. Read More….



Butter Clam

Butter Clam, Vancouver Island, BCButter clams occur from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska to Northern California, and they are quite common throughout the Pacific Northwest wherever suitable conditions occur. They live in a wide variety of beach types, from pure sand to pure gravel, but the typical substrate is a porous mixture of sand, broken shells, and small gravel.  Read More….



Frilled Dogwinkle

Frilled Dogwinkle, Vancouver Island, BCThe Frilled Dogwinkle is different from other similar species, it has no grooved channels encircling the shell and a lack of colored bands like other snails. In sheltered areas, they commonly have a thin frill on the shell, but when growing in a wave-swept beach, the frills are often missing. Read More….



Lewis Moonsnail

Lewis Moonsnail, Vancouver Island, BCMoonsnails glide on a very large, mucus-covered foot which, when fully extended, can be up to 30 cm long. When this fleshy mantle is extended, it will nearly cover the snail’s shell. The animal can discharge water which allows it to shrink, slide into its shell and seal the opening by closing its operculum. Read More….




Limpets, Vancouver Island, BCLimpets eat algae that they scrape off rocks with their rough tongues. Each will scrape a pit or groove in the rock to make a bed. After grazing, they go back to their beds by following the trails made by scraping the algae. When on the move, a limpet can cover about 5 to 7 cm an hour. Read More….




Mussels, Vancouver Island, BCMussels have bluish-black shells that look like a flattened teardrop. The inside of the shell is pearly violet to white. Projecting from between the shells on the flat side is a bundle of tough, brownish threads, which are used to anchor themselves to hard surfaces. Read More….



Pacific Oysters

Pacific Oyster, Vancouver Island, BCPacific Oysters change sex at some point during their life, usually spawning first as a male and subsequently as a female. Environmental conditions may affect sex. When food supplies are plentiful, males tend to change into females, and vice versa when food supplies are in poor supply. Read More….




Scallops, Vancouver Island, BCScallops occur all along the pacific northwest coast, Spiny scallops are found subtidally from 5 to 150 meters in depth, while Pink can be found to a depth of 200 meters. Spiny scallops prefer gravel or rocky bottom. Pink prefer a sand or mud substrate. Both prefer areas with some current. Rock Scallops prefer a very rocky bottom. Read More….


We are so lucky here on the West Coast to have such a variety of amazing shellfish. Many of the commercial species we have here were introduced from other parts of the world. But I think that they have little impact on the native shellfish population and have indeed found a nitch here.

The ocean waters flowing down the coast from northern climates are rich with nutrients and very cold. This makes the prime areas for shellfish production around the central area of Vancouver Island. The cold waters we have here are necessary for the fine flavors of our shellfish. The nutrients that are in this water provide plenty of food for rapid growth.

Scallops, Vancouver Island, BC
Scallops, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

There are many freshwater shellfish on Vancouver Island, although most are not edible, they are still very fascinating to study. There is something quite awesome about seeing the variety and abundance of shellfish on Vancouver Island.

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