Varnish Clam

Varnish Clam (Nutallia obscurata)

From Fidalgo Island Crossings, most things on the beach come in shades of gray and other earth tones.  In such a setting, something glowing purple catches your eye.  These are the empty shells of the Varnish Clam (Nuttallia obscurata), a recent immigrant from Asia.  The outside of the shell is nondescript and can be seen at the larger shell's 10 o'clock position.  It does look as if it has been varnished.  They are thought to have been first introduced into the Strait of Georgia near Vancouver, B.C. in the late 1980's.  The dumping of ballast water by Asian transport ships is the probable source.  These empty shells were spotted near Similk Bay.  They are the likely victims of predation by Dungeness Crabs.


  1. The varnish clam story is a fascinating one - see my post at Varnish Clams. I remember seeing these arrive on Vancouver Island in the mid 90s.


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