Atrina fragilis

Range & Status

Found with its pointed anterior end deeply buried in mud, sand or fine gravel from extreme low water mark to considerable depth (400m). A widely distributed, but rarely encountered, species in Britain. Recorded from the north of Scotland through to the Iberian Peninsula, however it is a predominantly southern and south-western species in the British Isles. Once described as being relatively common about the extreme low water mark on the shores of the Isles of Scilly, it has since undergone a very marked decline in numbers. The most recent records come from south of Dodman Head, south of the Helford Estuary and a single specimen amongst sublittoral Eelgrass Zostera spp. in the Helford Estuary itself. There are apparently fairly large numbers of this species in deep water in the English Channel outside the 12 mile limit off Cornwall (Walker, 1991). This species has been affected by the increase in demersal fishing in recent years. The single specimen in the Helford Estuary is in danger of boats anchoring in the shallow water or collection by divers.

Atrina fragilis is on the UK list of Priority Species, has its own Species Action Plan and has been protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) since 1998.