Clausinella fasciata Clausinella fasciata

This site provides taxonomic information on every bivalve species found, and that may possibly be found, in British waters to a depth of 5000m. Originally released in 2010 the site has recently been rejuvenated (May 2016) with new features added.

Marine bivalve identification from waters around the British Isles has relied, for the last fifty years, on Norman Tebble’s “British Bivalve Seashells” (1966). This excellent work for its time was restricted to species found from the intertidal to the shelf but excluded many species found in deeper water or on the northern and southern extremities. In the last fifty years there have been numerous changes in the nomenclature such that Tebble’s book is frequently at odds with CLEMAM (Check List of European Marine Mollusca) and WoRMS (World Register of Marine Species), web-based checklists, and Smith & Heppell’s Checklist published in 1991.

Deep-sea research has expanded since the 1960s, and there is now a commercial interest in the outer shelf and bathyal benthos for example due to expanding oil and gas exploration and production. The majority of taxa found in these regions are not included in Tebble’s book and this has been reflected in the poor levels of identification seen in much of the grey literature concerning surveys for environmental impact Assessments (EIAs). In general ecologists found that most bivalves were represented in their samples by the early growth stages and that these were often unlike the adults and difficult to identify. Such was the state of taxonomy in EIAs that the Atlantic Frontier Environmental Network began to promote taxonomic research and this website is a direct consequence of that initiative..

The Project

  • Provision of an identification aid to all bivalves found in waters around the British Isles, including those found in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and the Channel Islands.

  • Over 380 species are now included on this website.

  • Interactive keys are provided to species level.

  • The bathymetric coverage is from the intertidal to the abyss (5000m).

  • Where available both, juvenile and adult stages are illustrated.


The Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is acknowledged for their financial backing via its Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) programme and Dr John Hartley for providing us with the opportunity in the first place. Additional funding was also provided by DECC for the New Features and updates.

Funding for the intial work on the bivalves of the deeper waters to the west of the UK was provided by the Atlantic Frontier Environmental Network (AFEN) through a biodiversity bursary to Dr P.G. Oliver.

Full List of Acknowledgements

The following people and institutions are to be thanked for providing us with access to their material: Natural History Museum, London; National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh; National Oceanography Centre, Southampton; World Museum Liverpool; Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris; Naturhistoriska riksmuseet, Stockholm; Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC; Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University; Henk Dijkstra, Zoological Museum, University of Amsterdam; Shelagh Smith; Rudo von Cosel, MNHN.

Numerous fieldtrips within the UK have provided us with additional material for size series plates of problematical groups. We joined two cruises run by the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor; one to west of Scotland including Loch Fyne and another to Belfast Lough to collect in the Irish Sea. We would like to thank the crews and scientific teams on both of these cruises.

Website Development

Thanks are due to all who have assisted in the development of the website. The publication of the website would not be possible without their continued support:

Chris Owen - Web Manager, Digital Media, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales
Dave Thorpe - Senior Digital Developer, Digital Media, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales
Graham Davies - Digital Programmes Manager, Digital Media, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales
Jace Tyler - Senior Computer Officer (Networks), ICT, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales
Rhidian Thomas - Senior Computer Officer (Servers), ICT, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

The Website

The Marine Bivalve Shells of the British Isles website was designed and developed by James Turner - Department of Natural Sciences, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.

This website should be cited as:

Oliver, P. G., Holmes, A. M., Killeen, I. J. & Turner, J. A. (2016). Marine Bivalve Shells of the British Isles. Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales. Available from: http://naturalhistory.museumwales.ac.uk/britishbivalves [Accessed:  ].


This website including all data and images is protected by copyright belonging to Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales. Neither text nor images can be downloaded for anything other than personal use without the written permission of the Museum. The Museum will vigorously pursue any illegal use of the contents of this website.