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Posted: Mar 29 2009

 Gouldia cerina (C. B. Adams, 1845), Waxy Gouldclam

For another group photo CLICK HERE

On March 29, 2009 I posted the following request on Conch-L:

"[Gouldia cerina] supposedly is found on both sides of Florida. However, I found only one 1969 record for the west coast (Sanibel). I'd like to hear from those with first-hand collecting experience on Florida's west coast."

Jim Brunner reported:

"We have G. cerina from the Panama City area obtained after scallop dredging in late 80's ( 90 feet on sand/coral rubble bottom). The largest is 12.2mm, a size not unusual here."

Emilio Garcia reported collections from west Florida and other Gulf locations:

"I have collected Gouldia cerina at the following stations:

West coast of Florida: Dredged at 27º36.89'N, 83º21.l9'W;in 111 ft; on the R/V "Pelican",in a bottom of rubble, sand & sponges- in grunge

Louisiana: Sackett Bank: 28º38.16'N89º33.19'W- Dredged in 60-70 m

Campeche Banks, Mexico: 22º15.12'N, 90º41.63'W- Dredged in 51-56 m, in rubble and sediment."

These reports prompted
Allen Aigen to comment:

"Very odd distribution. It sounds like there may be two species, with no obvious difference in the shell. Are there any deep water east-coast records?"

Harry Lee replied:

"Dear Allen and other interested parties,

I mentioned an ex pisce series of Gouldia cerina from 155 ft. off Ponte Vedra, St. Johns Co. on the discussion site.

I have looked at a lot of Gouldia, including G. bermudensis (E. A. Smith, 1885) [+ G. insularis (Dall and Simpson, 1901], G. minima (Montagu, 1803), and G. californica Dall, 1917 - the latter two occurring in the eastern Atlantic and E. Pacific respectively.

In my collection are 18 lots of G. cerina ranging from Bermuda to Brazil (Estado do São Paulo) and six of G. insularis (Bermuda, Bahamas, and Caribbean Colombia] - none from the Carolinian Province. The two were found together at only one place, Coney Is., Bermuda.

I have been unable to distinguish any western Atlantic species aside from these two. Their bathymetric range seem to be similar. G. cerina tends to appear closer to shore in the "tropics" and is "submerged" in cooler waters.

However, there is always more to any 'just so' story as this."

And, ideed there was "more."
Harry later added:

"I now see there are 25 lots of Gouldia cerina and eight of G. bermudensis in my cabinet. A review of the labels indicates no change in my reported limits of range, but bathymetrics vary from 0-39 m (Bahamas) for Gouldia bermudensis and 0-66 m (Gulf of Mexico) for G. cerina.

Fabio Wiggers reports from Brazil:

"I´ve collected Goldia ceria at from 12 to 24 m here in Santa Catarina State, Brazil. Mainly on muddy sand flats."

Also from Brasil,
Marcus Coltro wrote:

"Our shells were collected either at low tide using hand dredge or at 20-30 meters by dredge - from Sao Paulo State to Espirito Santo State. Click Here for photos "


Very interesting, another great addition Marlo.  I note that some of the specimens were collected in estuaries and some off shore. Just wondering what the debth of water was and the method of collection. I assume that off shore (Jacksonville) specimens were collected by dredge.


The species was taken from beach renourishment spoil, Atlantic Beach (origin probably about 60 ft. depth), by dredge in 60 ft. and 70 ft. depths 10-14 mi. off Mayport, from scallop tailings on Batten Is., Jax and St. Augustine (probably about 100 ft. depths), and from the digestive tracts of batfish trawled batfish trawled in about 140 ft.of water 55 mi. E. of Ponte Vedra.

The shells in the image were from the Batten Is. scallop tailing and were rather common.

We haven't found it inside the ten fathom isobath.

I notice the vernacular name "Serene Gouldclam" heads this illuminated essay. This may have been coined by R. Tucker Abbott (1974: 530), but I think it is based on a mistranslation of cerinus, -a, -um, which means "wax-colored" in Latin. The American Fisheries Society introduced "Waxy Gouldclam" [my quotes and upper case], which is a little more apt. C. B. Adams described the species in Latin only and used "cerina" as a descriptor. It isn't clear whether he meant wax-colored or wax-textured, but I suspect the former.


Another lesson as to why reliance on a dead language is best. Trish Hartmann, author of Bivalve Seashells of Florida 2006, used the common vernacular "Wavy Gould Clam" and Mikkelsen & Bieler, authors of Seashells of Southern Florida - Bivalves 2008, used "Atlantic Gould Clam." I changed the subtitle to Waxy Gouldclam.


Neat little bivalve, lots of variations.

The few on the bottom left of Harry's pic seem to appear to have a perio on them.


The periostracum, when present, is subtle and does not contribute to the coloration or its pattern. 

Gouldia cerina 10.jpg
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