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Photo: Screenshot from RÚV.

A New Clam in Town

Razor clams are the newest addition to Iceland’s resident fauna, RÚV reports. Researchers believe that the bivalves, which got their name in English from their long skinny shape, sharp edges, and resemblance to old fashioned straight razors, were brought to Iceland in the bilge water of cargo ships. Razor clams are known in Icelandic as sindraskel (pl. sindraskeljar).

The first razor clams, dead, were found on a shore in Hafnarfjörður on New Year’s Eve 2020. A few days later, a live clam was found near the mouth of the Hafnarár river in Borgarfjörður, West Iceland. This is the first time razor clams have been found in Iceland, excepting an isolated incident in 1957, when one was found on the other side of the country, on Lónsfjörður in East Iceland. But up until now, no other razor clams have been found in the country. Six species of razor clam can, however, be found elsewhere in the North Atlantic.

Researchers believe that razor clams were brought to Iceland in the bilge water of cargo ships from the east coast of North America, most likely five to ten years ago.

“If alien species are able to establish themselves in new environments, it’s possible in some cases that they could cause damage to the preexisting ecosystem,” explains a new study published by researchers at the Icelandic Museum of Natural History. “Monitoring the razor clam is, therefore, important.” The museum is currently conducting a study on the razor clam population in Iceland in collaboration with the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, Matís, the Southwest Iceland Nature Research Centre, and Canada’s Anishinabek/Ontario Fisheries Resource Center.

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