Cockle

Cerastoderma edule

About

The Common Cockle lives on muddy and sandy shores, between the high tide and low tide mark, and is commonly found in estuaries. It is a medium-sized clam-like shell, rounded and domed with radiating ridges. It feeds by filtering plankton and other organic matter from the water. Cockles are predated upon by oystercatchers, the shore crab, shrimps and flatfish.

How to identify

There are various species of cockle which can be hard to tell apart. This is the commonest and the most likely one to be found washed up on the beach. The outer surface of the shell is off-white, yellowish or brown, and the inside is white.

Where to find it

Found all around our coasts.

Habitats

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Cockles have been collected as food for hundreds of years, but mechanised methods of collection like dredging, have led to concerns about over-exploitation. In some areas, there are now limits on cockle harvests. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Cockle
Latin name
Cerastoderma edule
Category
Bivalves
Statistics
Length: up to 5cm long Average Lifespan: 2-4 years
Conservation status
Common.