39. The Butterfly Clam My Notes
1 One warm, sunny day, I sat by the shore of the Gulf of Mexico watching the waves slowly roll up on the beach. The water pushed and pulled at the hundreds of tiny shells that were uncovered by the waves. These tiny shells seem to have staked out their territory along the water’s edge. They appear and disappear as the waves roll in, but they never leave their spot.
2 I reached down to pick up one of the tiny shells, but by the time my fingers were near it, the shell had disappeared. In fact, all the shells had vanished! 3 I knew that each one of these tiny shells was the home of a living animal called a mollusk. The hard shell protects the soft, boneless clam from many foes. I waited for one more wave to wash the sand away. Then, like magic, the shells were there again. As the wave rolled back to the sea, I could see the animals digging back trying to conceal
themselves in the wet sand.
4 I pushed my hand into the sand. When I pulled it out, I had a handful of tiny shells. Collecting seashells on the beach has long been a favorite activity of mine. These shells were almost closed, but I could see some pink parts of the little animals that stuck out and wriggled. Each shell was about three-quarters of an inch across, or smaller. They were beautiful! Some were pink, some brown, and yellow. Others were shades of blue and purple. Each was a different color, but all had the same sunburst design. Each shell seems to have a slightly different pattern from the others.
5 I watched them wiggle in my hand for a few minutes and then gently put them back in the wet sand. These little clams lead a life of almost ceaseless activity. Burrowing rapidly into the sand as water recedes, the tiny clam is again unearthed when the next wave breaks on shore. Exposed, it must dig in again, using its stout pointed foot as a spade to thrust downward for a firm grip and pull itself rapidly back into the sand. Once entrenched, the clam extends its tiny siphons to draw in water and feed on the minute plankton carried on the waves.
6 These little clams shift higher or lower on the beach with the tides in mass movements of scores of hundreds. They seem to work an area for the food it provides, then move on. The sand flashes bright-multicolored patches as the small clams emerge from their holes, only to be swallowed seconds later by the rushing sea.
7 Animals such as birds, crabs, and some fishes feed on these clams, and in some areas people harvest the little clams to make chowder. But it takes LOTS of the tiny morsels to make a meal, and the result is often more broth than clams, along with a hefty serving of sand.
8 I decided to look for some shells that I could take home with me. I hunted for abandoned shells along the beach that were no longer homes for these soft little creatures. In no time at all, I had my hands full of discarded shells.
9 When both halves of one of these little empty shells are open and lying flat, they look like butterfly wings. That’s why some people call these sea animals the butterfly clam. Another name for this mollusk with a beautiful shell house is the butterfly coquina (co KEE nah).
10 Watch the shoreline for these bright little bivalves this spring. Like colorful confetti, coquinas herald the coming of summer, a time for fun and frolicking on the beaches.
1. Which sentence from the selection shows why the butterfly clams are in one area?
a. Animals such as birds, crabs, and some fishes feed on these clams, and in
some areas people harvest the little clams to make chowder.
b. These tiny shells seem to have staked out their territory along the
c. They [the butterfly clams} seem to work an area for the food it provides, then move on.
d. When both halves of one of these little empty shells are open and lying flat, they look like
2. The author probably wrote this article to—
a. share an experience
b. inform about the habits of ocean creatures
c. persuade the reader to take care of the environment
d. explain what happens when the waves hit the shore
3. The author of this article believes—
a. everyone should take time to sit on the beach and enjoy the sea life.
b. it is fun to try to grasp butterfly clams in her hand.
c. butterfly clams are beautiful.
d. abandoned shells no longer have soft sea creatures in them.
4. In paragraph 3, the word conceal is used to convey the message that these clams
would like to—
a. be seen by people on the beach so their beauty can be enjoyed.
b. hide from sight.
c. expose themselves to the sun for just a few minutes in order to warm up.
d. disclose their hiding place in order to have a little fun with beach creatures and
then dig quickly back into the sand.
5. In paragraph 8, which word helps the reader know what abandoned means?
6. What is the main idea of this article?
a. The body of the butterfly clam is soft and boneless. The hard shell protects the
clam from the many foes on the beach that would like to eat it.
b. Beauty can be seen in the most tiny creatures. The viewer simply must take the
time to look closely at these creatures in nature and not be in a hurry.
c. The butterfly clam is a tiny sea animal with a beautiful, colored shell. This
creature spends most of its time in constant activity burrowing back into the
sand after a wave exposes it.
d. Some of the butterfly clams are pink, some brown, some lavender, and some
blue. Each is a little different in color, but all have the same sunburst design.
When opened up, they look fantastic in a seashell collection.
7. Read the following diagram, which shows information from “The Butterfly Clam”
and “South Padre Island.”
Which of these facts belongs in the blank?
a. The narrator is looking for friends on the beach to have fun with.
b. The narrator collects clamshells to take home.
c. The narrator tries to protect the clams from snails and other creatures
that would destroy them.
d. The narrator is amused by her father’s explanation about clams.