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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Razor Shell Ensis americanus

So called because their shells resemble a straight razor, razor shells live in deep, vertical burrows on muddy and soft sandy shores. They are native to the northeast coast of North America, and the free-swimming larval stage is thought to have been introduced to the North Sea in 1978 when a ship emptied its ballast tanks outside the German port of Hamburg. This clam has subsequently spread along the continental coast. In places, it affects local polychaete worm populations, but it is not considered a pest.

Razor Shell habitat mapzoom image
  • Order Bivalvia
  • Length 6 in (16 cm)
  • Habitat Sandy and muddy shores
  • Distribution Atlantic coast of North America, introduced to North Sea