Image Harvesting New Zealand cockles

TLF ID M008768

This is a colour photograph of two people collecting New Zealand cockles ('Austrovenus stutchburyi') in shallow sea water. The cockles are being dug by hand from a sand flat and placed into buckets. (Classification - Phylum: Mollusca; Class: Bivalvia; Order: Veneroida; Family Veneridae.)

Educational details

Educational value
  • The New Zealand cockle ('Austrovenus stutchburyi') is a type of bivalve found only in coastal areas of New Zealand. It lives in shallow waters buried in the soft mud or fine sand of sand flats, eelgrass beds and estuaries. The New Zealand cockle is also known by its Maori names, tuaki or tuangi.
  • The New Zealand cockle has a thick heavy shell that protects it from predators and from drying out. While they are normally buried in sand or mud, they can survive short periods out of the water. Cockles are filter feeders that sieve microscopic plankton out of the water in which they float.
  • Cockles play an important role in marine food chains and are also good indicators of environmental health. By feeding upon plankton, cockles help to manage plankton density and prevent phytoplankton blooms, which reduce oxygen availability. Cockles are a food source for marine animals such as birds and crabs. As a filter feeder, cockles may also accumulate toxins from the environment, which can tell us a lot about marine pollution.
  • Cockles have historically been a popular source of food for Maori peoples. They are still recreationally harvested in many parts of New Zealand. They are also commercially harvested in some places and the government has imposed strict quotas to manage their numbers.
Year level

5; 6; 7; 8

Topics Fishing Clams
Learning area
  • Science

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: University of Waikato
  • Organization: University of Waikato
  • Description: content provider
  • Address: NEW ZEALAND
  • URL:
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
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