The “Tab” or Pen Shell

Tab | @natmuseumbohol

The National Museum of the Philippines features a marine organism that helps clean up coastal areas of tropical waters, the Tab or PenShell.

The Pen shell, locally known as Tab, is a long fan-shaped bivalve, dark brown in color, with its growth pattern visible through the shell’s grids. The pointed bottom of the shell is anchored and attached to soft rocks, corals or mud using its root-like byssus or byssal threads. These shells are found in the Pacific region, Africa, New Zealand, Mexico, Japan, and some other parts of Europe.

In Bohol, the pen shells can be found chiefly on shore near sea grass meadows. These bivalves have economic importance, especially to the coastal communities on the island. Pinna atropurpurea is one of the species of pen shell actively being collected for human consumption which can be eaten fresh (kinilaw) mixed in coconut vinegar (sukang tuba) and sprinkled with chili (sili), and it is also tasty when sauteed (ginisa). They sometimes produce pearls which can be used in jewelry making. The shell can also be carved into decorative accessories.

Pen shells are helpful cleaners of our marine environment, they help in cleaning up murky waters by feeding on the algae and other organisms in the seas. Let’s help conserve these marine animals for a cleaner and pristine ecosystem.

You may want to read: