Mya arenaria is a large long-lived bivalve. The shell is dirty white or fawn in colour with a fawn or light yellow periostracum. Large specimens may reach 12 -15 cm in length. The shell is oval in outline, marked by conspicuous concentric lines with dissimilar valves, the right being slightly more convex than the left, and slightly anterior beaks (umbones). The shell gapes posteriorly. The shell hinge bears no teeth but the left valve bears a large spoon shaped chondrophore to which the ligament is attached. However, there is considerable variation in shell outline, texture and thickness. The interior of the shell is white with a deep pallial sinus, and anterior and posterior adductor muscle scars. The foot is small and muscular and the mantle edges are fused except at the pedal gape and ends of siphons. The exhalent and inhalent siphons are fused along their length, contractile, and capable of considerable extension to reach the surface (about 20cm or up to 40cm in large specimens) where they leave a characteristic 'key-hole' shaped opening in the sediment.Common names include, the 'sand gaper', 'soft clam', 'soft-shelled clam', 'steamer clam' and the 'nannynose'. The literature on Mya arenaria is extensive and this Key Information review is based upon more detailed reviews by Clay (1966), Newell & Hidu (1986) and Strasser (1999).
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