Species Account

Arca zebra Swainson, 1833

Arcoidea : Arcidae

Tebble name:
Smith & Heppell name:

To size: To 90 mm. Shell Structure: Thin, robust. Equivalve: Equivalve. Equilateral: Inequilateral, beaks to anterior. Tumidity: Tumid. Outline: Elongated boat shape, with a posterior notch, giving it a wing shape. Byssal gap is narrow.

Sculpture: Radial ribs. Margin: Smooth. Ligament: Duplivincular, diamond shaped as viewed from above. In large specimens it becomes very elongated but does not run the entire length of the dentition. Hinge: Taxodont. Numerous identical tiny teeth set on a thin hinge plate. Pallial Musculature: Anterior adductor round, 50% smaller than posterior, which is oval. Colour: White internally. External covered in brown zigzag bands or zebra stripes, although these may be obscured by encrustation.

Distribution & Ecology

Described from Bay of Naples, Jamaica. Ranges from Bermuda, North Carolina through the Caribbean to Venezuela.

In their native range they live byssally attached to rocks in shallow water and are very common. Frequently end up accidentally in aquaria attached to living rock.

In Britain and Ireland it has been found attached to a stone crab trap, Boolakeel, Co. Kerry, Ireland.

Depth Range

Additional Information & Related Species


Listed are literature citing Arca zebra Swainson, 1833. Reference containing the species Type Description is highlighted.

Swainson, W. 1833. Zoological Illustrations or original figures and descriptions of new, rare or interesting animals, selected chiefly from the classes or ornithology, entomology and conchology and arranged according to their apparent affinities. Zoological Illustrations (2) Bladwin & Cradock and Havell, London. 3 pls, 97-136.


  • 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.

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Record last modified: 03/03/2022