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Digging the Clams

by Norris Comer

Razor Clam HarvestThere’s some mixed news for the avid (rabid?) razor clam harvesters among us. The season is nigh, but digs at Long Beach, Washington are delayed due to domoic acid levels. At the time of this writing, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) tentatively scheduled razor clam digs to begin in mid-October and extend through December on three other ocean beaches. Speculation abounds as to how the season will stack up, but WDFW has hinted that the total razor clam population on Washington’s ocean beaches has increased slightly over the last year. The first proposed razor clam dig is on Friday, October 14, 2016 at Twin Harbors, Copalis, and Mocrocks. Low tide is .2 feet at 1755 hours.

WDFW continues to monitor toxin levels on all ocean beaches. The start of last season was delayed due to elevated levels of domoic acid, a natural toxin from certain algae species, as well. The recent testing casts uncertainty on the fall razor clam season. Toxin testing is performed within ten days of a planned razor clam dig. WDFW typically announces whether a dig will go forward about a week before the opening.

For the uninitiated, the razor clam (Siliqua patula) is a species of native, and delicious, bivalve mollusk that inhabits the Pacific West Coast from California to Alaska. You’d have to talk to a pro to get all the best hunting advice, but harvesters typically look for a “show” (a hole or depression in the sand) to know where to dig.

A list of additional proposed openings through December 31, 2016, is available on WDFW’s razor clam webpage at wdfw.wa.gov, where more information about razor clam digging can be found. Stay tuned for more WDFW announcements.

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