Hermaphrodites Under the Sea

There’s no reason to hide the truth. Clams are hermaphrodites, and Amen Street welcomes all seafood with open arms. Clams are delicious and very beloved here in the lowcountry. Our warm water temperatures are perfect for clam baby making.

When it comes time to spawn, clams release their sperm and eggs into the open water, which fuse together and form baby clams. As a male clam matures, he has a heavy decision to make. If he changes into a female, he will release eggs into the water instead of sperm, hopefully leveling out the playing field and creating greater chances for the clam population to grow.

Whatever the decision may be, the babies find themselves a shelly, sandy ocean floor to call home and develop into adult clams. And so the cycle continues.

Aside from their ability to switch sexes, clams are a simple shellfish. They don’t really move, they’re not very competitive; they live peacefully together in a bunch. Although clam dishes are more popular up the road in New England, South Carolina and other Southern coastal regions are the main supplier for chowders and clam bakes.

Don’t thank us, Northerners. Thank the hermaphrodite clam, who’s always ready and willing to change and keep the clam population growing.

*Thank you to Megan Westmeyer from the SC Aquarium and the SCDNR for some fun facts.

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