Species Account

Abra alba (W Wood, 1802)

Tellinoidea : Semelidae

Tebble name: Abra alba (W Wood)
Smith & Heppell name: Abra alba (W Wood, 1802)

To size: To 25mm. Shell Structure: Thin, brittle. Equivalve: Almost equivalve. Equilateral: Inequilateral, beaks to the posterior. Tumidity: Not tumid. Outline: Subtrigonal, posterior dorsal margin almost straight sloping to a rounded posterior margin, anterior dorsal margin slightly longer and slopes slightly less steeply to a broadly rounded anterior margin. Twists to right slightly.

Sculpture: Fine concentric lines, growth stages clear. Margin: Smooth. Ligament: External small brown, arched band, internal ligament in a small triangular chondrophore. Hinge: LV one small cardinal and single weak laterals; RV two cardinals and single laterals. Pallial Musculature: Deep pallial sinus, confluent with pallial line for most of its length. Cruciform muscle scars visible in some specimens. Periostracum: Light brown. Colour: Dirty white.

Distribution & Ecology

Lives in a wide range of substrates but most often in fine, silty sand, less frequent in mud or gravel

Distributed all around the coasts of Britain and Ireland, occurring from the lower shore to the shelf edge.

Depth Range
Continental Shelf (to 200m)

Additional Information & Related Species

Juvenile Description

Hyaline, transparent, similar to adult but outline in very small shells more symmetrical.

Key Features & Similar Species

Often confused with Abra nitida, but the outline of A. alba is more inequilateral, more broadly subovate with a less pointed posterior and lacks the distinct depression associated with the external ligament. Some populations are posteriorly more acute but do not have the posterior depression.

Related Species


Listed are literature citing Abra alba (W Wood, 1802). Reference containing the species Type Description is highlighted.

Allen J A & Sanders H L 1966. Adaptations to abyssal life as shown by the bivalve Abra profundorum (Smith). Deep Sea Research and Oceanographic Abstracts. 13: 1175-1178.
Wood W 1802. Observations on the hinges of British Bivalve Shells. Transactions of the Linnaean Society. VI: 174.


  • Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland
    Provides resources for understanding, identifying, recording, and conserving molluscs
    Check List of European Marine Mollusca
  • MarLIN
    The Marine Life Information Network for Britain and Ireland (MarLIN) provides information for marine environmental management, protection and education. It is a centre of excellence in spatially based and time-series marine biological information and supports good stewardship in the marine environment.
  • NBN Gateway
    National Biodiversity Network's Gateway. Use it to explore UK biodiversity data, as contributed by participating data providers.
  • BivAToL
  • MarBEF
  • Malacological Society
  • Unitas Malacologica
  • Census of Marine Life
  • MarBEF
    MarBEF, a network of excellence funded by the European Union and consisting of 94 European marine institutes, is a platform to integrate and disseminate knowledge and expertise on marine biodiversity, with links to researchers, industry, stakeholders and the general public.

Record last modified: 29/03/2022