Friday, April 29, 2011

Snuffbox Mussels, Male and Female (watercolour approx 3 x 4 in.) SOLD

I have finally finished this series of clam paintings, working too steadily to find time for posting here, but now that I'm finished, I can show you what I've done, and what I've learned! The Snuffbox, Epioblasma triqueta, is a smallish clam listed as a Species At Risk, its Canadian range reduced to a few hundred individuals in the Sydenyam River in southwestern Ontario. You would never know, from looking at the male, why this species is named "Snuffbox".  But neither would you think, upon finding the female, that  she was in any way related - and her special shape is why they are named "Snuffbox".

Smaller than the male, she is not flat at all, but deep and box-like, with a distinctly beak-like front-end.  This is the business end! Her way of propagating her tiny gloccidia is to grab a curious log-perch by the nose and pump her babies out in its face, so as many of them as possible may latch on and be nourished, carried, and dispersed by the fish.

We found this video of a female Snuffbox in the very act of catching a host for her young. Just at the end, you can see the little particles puffing out from her shell. These would be 'inhaled' by the fish, and establish themselves on its gills, to be carried about for a few months, and then drop off to be free living for the rest of their lives. Other fresh water mussels have various strategies for luring their host fish, but none of them make such a forceful  introduction as the Snuffbox!


  1. That video was amazing, Aleta, and your paintings are so beautiful.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. Yes, the video is truly amazing - did you notice how at first she was wiggling a little in her spot, to attract the notice of piscine passersby?


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