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Coming Soon - Updates & New Features

Clausinella fasciata Clausinella fasciata

Our website is being updated.

  • More features such as keys will be added.
  • Nomenclature will be checked and revised.
  • New, responsive design for better browsing.
Many thanks to regular users for useful feedback.

We expect to launch the keys and updates in May 2016


The identification of marine bivalves from waters around the British Isles has relied, for the last forty years, on Norman Tebble’s “British Bivalve Seashells”. 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 forty years, there have been numerous changes in the nomenclature such that Tebble’s book is frequently at odds with the current checklists of Smith & Heppell (1992) and the web based CLEMAM (Checklist of the Marine Mollusca of Europe and the Mediterranean). 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 environmental impact surveys. 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 web site is a direct consequence of that initiative.

The Project

This web product therefore aims to deliver:

  • An identification aid to all bivalves found in waters around the British Isles, including those found in the EEZs of the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and the Channel Islands.

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

  • An identification aid to all bivalves listed in Smith & Heppell including those not yet recorded from the British Isles but living in close proximity.

  • Where available both juvenile and adult stages are illustrated.

  • An interactive key (in preparation)

Website Citation

This website should be cited as:

Oliver, P. G., Holmes, A. M., Killeen, I. J. & Turner, J. A. 2010 Marine Bivalve Shells of the British Isles (Mollusca: Bivalvia). Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales. Available online at http://naturalhistory.museumwales.ac.uk/britishbivalves. [ Accessed:  ].

Pseudamussium sulcatum, Musculus costulatus and Acanthocardia echinata


Many people are to be thanked for their support during every stage of this project. The Department of Energy & Climate Change is acknowledged for providing the  funding for this huge undertaking via its Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) programme and Dr John Hartley for providing us with the opportunity in the first place.

Funding for initial 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

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.

Full list of Acknowledgements

Website Development

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

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, New Media, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales
Dave Thorpe - Web & Intranet Developer, New Media, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales
Graham Davies - Virtual Museum Curator, New 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


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 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.