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Cockle
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Scientific Name Cardiiae
Conservation Status Least Concern
Family Bivalve
Habitat Beaches throughout the world
Food Plankton


Cockle is the common name for a group of (mostly) small, edible, saltwater clams, marine bivalve molluscs in the family Cardiidae.

Various species of cockles live in sandy sheltered beaches throughout the world.

The distinctive rounded shells of cockles are symmetrical, and are heart-shaped when viewed from the end. In most but not all genera there are numerous radial ribs. For an exception, see the genus Laevicardium, the egg cockles, which have very smooth shells.

The mantle has three apertures (inhalant, exhalant, and pedal) for siphoning water and for the foot to protrude. Cockles typically burrow using the foot, and feed by filtering plankton from the surrounding water.

Cockles are capable of 'jumping' by bending and straightening the foot.

Like many bivalves, cockles are hermaphroditic and some species reach maturity quickly.


Cockles are a popular type of edible shellfish in both Eastern and Western cooking. They are collected by raking them from the sands at low tide. However, the labour of collecting cockles is hard work and, as seen from the Morecambe Bay disaster, in which 21 illegal immigrants died, can be dangerous if local tidal conditions are not carefully watched.

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