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Nuttallia obscurata
Image courtesy of Dave Cowles at
Nuttallia obscurata
Taxonomic Group: Mollusks-Bivalves


Nuttallia obscurata is commonly known as the Purple Varnish Clam or the Purple Mahogany Clam. It is native to the Northwest Pacific from Russia, Japan and China. In 1991, it was discovered in Blaine, Washington, at the Washington-British Columbia border. It is thought to have been introduced as larvae in ballast water from vessels entering the nearby Port of Vancouver. It has extended its range north into the Strait of Georgia and south into Puget Sound, Willapa Bay, and Coos Bay, Oregon. It is a burrowing bivalve found in sand, gravel, and mud, often in the upper intertidal. It prefers estuaries and other areas affected by freshwater inflow. Since its introduction, it has spread rapidly and developed high densities in much of its introduced range.

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Fofonoff PW, Ruiz GM, Steves B, Simkanin C, & Carlton JT (2018)
National Exotic Marine and Estuarine Species Information System.
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Marine Invasions Lab
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

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