Broad-ribbed Cardita a Florida Beach Sea Shell

A Sample of a Cardita Sea Shell

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What is a Broad Ribbed Cardita Sea Shell?


The Cardita sea shell is what is left after the Cardita clam has been taken out of its home. Being an edible clam, the Cardita is sought out by many different predators. Predators can include octopi, humans, birds and predator sea snails such as the Conch. You can tell the clams that have been “opened” by a sea snail by the hole that is drilled into the sea shell, almost always at the hinge end.

Cardita seashells are similar to Ark seashells which with they are sometimes confused. The most distinguishing feature of the Cardita is the deep grooves between the ribs. This makes the rib stand out. The seashell carries about 20 of these ribs. Almost all the color is also carried on the ribs.

The inside of the seashells are generally a pearly white although I have found some with yellowish tinges and dark grays. These sea shells may have been stained by something after the animal died or it have been absorbed from the sand where the animal was living. It is something I don’t know but I do know I found them in different colors with the colors “bleeding out” to the inside of the seashells.

The seashells I find range in size from about ¼ inch long to around 1 ½ inches long. They are about half that length deep and the seashells are curved to allow room for the clam that lives inside. The ribs start at the hinge end and radiate out from there. The ribs are narrow at the hinge end and much wider at the opposite end.


Colors and Patterns

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Where Can These Florida Beach Shells Be Found?


The Florida version of the Cardita, Carditamera Floridana, can be found from Florida’s east coast around to the Gulf of Mexico. I have found the sea shells on both of Florida’s coasts. They are very common on my favorite beach for beachcombing (it’s the closest beach to my home), the beach at Pompano Beach, Florida. When I take a walk looking for curiosities and sea shells for crafts I will always find some Cardita sea shells.

They generally live in the sand under the water anywhere from about 3 feet deep to 25 feet deep. When they die the seashells will mix with all the other seashells and debris that is in the water. Some of that mix will end up washed ashore by the ocean’s waves where beachcombers and beach goers can find them.

They can also be found in bags, shoe boxes, pails and assorted other collection devices. People that go to the beach seem to like to pick up seashells, especially kids like to play and keep them. Perhaps there is a collection of shells in your closet, hidden in a box or plastic container. You may have some Cardita sea shells in there.


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What is the Clam Like?


The Cardita clam is the same as all other clams. They will open up their home and put out siphons (tubes). One siphon draws water, with various organic bits, into the animal. The clam will filter out the good stuff and pass the water through to the other siphon. Mixed with the clam’s waste the water is ejected and returned to the ocean.

They perpetuate the species by spawning. When the time is right the females and the males of a colony of these clams will squirt their eggs and fertilizing sperm into the water to mix. The eggs that get fertilized will hatch into larva which will float in the currents for a few weeks fighting for survival in the plankton soup.

They feed and get fed upon until they reach the time to settle down. The survivors will head down to the sand to bury themselves where they will grow sea shells and become the Cardita whose sea shells are shown here. In the sand the Cardita clams will continue with the struggle to survive so they can pass along their genetic code to future generations.


An Example of a Complete Shell - Faked

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I Have Cardita Seashells. What Can I do With Them?


I use Cardita sea shells in my crafts with seashells. Sometimes they are used in magnet designs. I have also used them to decorate the outside of candle jars or votive candle glasses. Wall plaques and CD crafts can also be the canvas for seashell arts and crafts, and Cardita sea shells can add color and texture to both crafts. I’ve provided links for some of my sea shell craft articles below.

If you have a large collection, consider displaying them in cleaned out candle jars. Use the clear jars so the sea shells can be seen. To protect the sea shells and bring out some of their colors apply a coat of gloss or semi-gloss polyurethane paint to the shells. I have heard that some people use clear nail polish as an alternative. I suggest candle jars, or any covered jar with clear glass as opposed to bowls and vases because it is easier to dust.

You can also use Cardita seashells with a different type of clam sea shell as playing pieces in a board game. Checkers comes to mind. Use Cardita seashells of a similar size for one side and a different clam seashell for the other side. Turn them upside-down to show the ones that have become kings and can fly across the board. Use your imagination and see what you can come up with to use up your collection of the Broad Ribbed Cardita Florida Beach Shell.


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What are Your Thoughts? Leave Comments Here. 8 comments

unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

Hi angelo.. i love beach shells. used to collect different kind. our house is very near on the beach so i get to spend a lot of time on there.


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Must be nice to be able to get on the beach whenever you want. Makes me jealous. :) No problems though, I'm only 1/2 hour away. Thanks for checking out the article and leaving a comment, Unknown Spy.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

A great work, Angelo. I now remember that when I was a kid, a friend of the family went to FL on a vacation. She brought me back a whole shoebox of beautiful shells. The cardita shell was in there. I had forgotten about that until now. I didn't know that it was a cardita shell until now, too.


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida Author

Glad to help. I had to do a bit of research to find out what these seashells were. I got curious after finding them consistently on the beach. Thanks for stopping by and the comment.


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa

I have a few of these in my collection, too. I display my collection in a glass hurricane vase. But your tip about using something with a lid is wise to keep the dust out.


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 3 years ago from Central Florida Author

You might look into an old candle jar. Recycle it and store your seashells inside of it. Thanks for your comment.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

I still have a large amount of seashells that I picked up while beach combing in Florida many years ago. Many of them are these Broad-ribbed Cardita shells. Thanks for the education about the clam that lives inside of these...how they live, where they live, how they perpetuate their species, etc. Some of them made it onto the seashell wreaths that I made some years ago, one of which I featured in a hub. Up, useful, interesting votes and will share. I love the beauty of seashells!


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 3 years ago from Central Florida Author

Yes, they are naturally beautiful. I use them in crafts also mostly in designs featuring a variety of beachcombed seashells and sand. Thanks for reading the article, your comment and for sharing.

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