Smooth clam

Smooth clam

Smooth clam
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Order: Veneroida
Family: Veneridae
Genus: Callista
Species: C. chione
Binomial name
Callista chione
(Linnaeus), 1758

The smooth clam, Callista chione, (also sometimes classified as Cytherea chione or Meretrix chione) is a rather large, temperate, marine, bivalve mollusc that inhabits sandy bottoms or with small pebbles in clean waters down to about 200 m from the British Isles to the Mediterranean. The shell can reach up to about 110 mm Ø, its outer side is smooth and ranges from light greenish creamy colour to medium brown , probably varies to match the background; the interior is white to soft pink. The concentric and radial growth lines are easily seen. Callista chione is edible, different dishes are prepared throughout the Mediterranean in Spain, Italy, France, the Balkan and the Magreb countries.

It has been found that, as is the case with many bivalve molluscs, which are filter-feeders, (they feed by filtering food particles from the water), that Callista chione, common in fish markets in the Mediterranean, concentrates toxins from dinoflagellates blooms associated with pollution events such as red tides , sewage water, old sediment dredging, ship ballast water dumping, etc. These toxins cannot be eliminated by the traditional cleansing of shellfish in clean water or by cooking, and can be responsible for complex human health problems: respiratory ailments, skin rashes, even paralysis, etc., such as it is known now to have occurred in New Orleans, associated with the contact or ingestion of severely contaminated water, left by Katrina. The commonest of these dangers is known as PSP or paralytic shellfish poisoning.

Vernacular names

En: Smooth or brown Venus-clam
Fr: Vernis, grande palourde
It: Fasolaro (official name), Cappa liscia, cappa chione, issolone, venerechione
De: Braun Venusmuschel
Es: Almejón de sangre, mariposa, almejón brillante, gavesia, concha fina (Málaga España)
Ca: Petxinot de sang, lluenta
Gr: Gyalisteri (γυαλιστερή)
Hr: Lakirka, Rumenka, Klapun


  1. ^ . Details about the species and its fisheries
  2. ^ . A nice set of colour photographs from Callista chione shells can be seen at Conchology Inc. a collectors outlet in Belgium
  3. ^ . See for instance R.A. Vollenweider, A. Rinaldi, R. Viviani and E. Todini. 1996. Assessment of the state of eutrophication in the Mediterranean sea. MAP Technical Reports Series No. 106. UNEP, Athens.