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Aulacomya ater:   (click for more)

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FAO Names
En - Cholga mussel, Fr - Moule cholga, Sp - Cholga.
3Alpha Code: MSC     Taxonomic Code: 3161003801
Scientific Name with Original Description
Aulacomya ater  Molina, 1782. Saggio sulla Storia Naturale de Cili.
Diagnostic Features
Umbo shell pointed, curved and divergent. Dorsal edge rounded.  Shell with concentric growth grooves, and less marked radial grooves, covered by a black and brilliant periostracum, sometimes, purple or blue. Hinge with a single tooth that fits in the groove of the opposed shell, or without visible tooth.  Small specimens beige or yellow in colour. The mantle is creamish-yellow in males, beige with purple dots in females. Mother-of-pearl inner surface. 
Geographical Distribution
From El Callao (12°S) in Perú to the Magellan Strait and up to the southern coast of Brazil.
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Habitat and Biology
It is found in enclosed bays, usually in the 20-40 m depth range. It is also found in intertidal shallow waters. On isolated rocks or muddy rocky grounds.Form dense populations.It feeds upon phyto- and zooplankton, filtering diatoms, peridinians, and organic detritus swept away by the rivers.
Dioecius species. In southern Chile the spawning occurs between late November and February. Minimum spawning length is 65 mm.  Wide range of tolerance to environmental conditions, which would explain the wide distribution and high abundance in chanels and bays of southern Chile. 
20 cm in maximum length.
Interest to Fisheries
It is collected by artisanal methods along the coast of Chile. Highest landings in the II, VIII, X and XII Regions. Close season between 1st October and 31st December, excepting regions I, II and XII. Minimum commercial size is 7 cm, excepting regions I and II where it is 5,5 cm. It is usually collected by hand but hooks are also used. The culture of this species has started due to overexploitation. FAO's Yearbook of Fishery Statistics reports a range of yearly capture production from around 17580 mt in 1995 to 19738 mt in 1999 (Chile, Peru). FAO's Yearbook of Fishery Statistics reports a range of yearly aquaculture production from around 106 mt in 1995 to 566 mt in 1999 (Chile).
Cholgas are consumed cooked, raw and fresh with lemon. Also frozen and canned in brine or oil. They are smoked for preparing soaps.
Aulacomya ater was introduced in 1994 in the Moray Firth, north-east Scotland (Anon 1994). No other European populations are known.
Anon - 1994. Southern hemisphere visitors to the Moray Firth. Scottish Office Agriculture and Fisheries Department, Marine Laboratory, Aberdeen (unpublished report). . 
S. Lorenzen, C. Gallardo, C. Jara, E. Clasing, G. Pequeño & C. Moreno - 1979. Mariscos y peces de importancia comercial en el sur de Chile. (Ed.) Dirección de Investigaciones de la Vicerectoría Académica y de la Vicerectoría de Extensión y Comunicaciones. Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia. . 
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