The geoduck clam is a large species of saltwater clam that is native to the Pacific coastal regions. The geoduck clam is the largest burrowing clam found anywhere in the world. The average weight of a geoduck clam is between one and three pounds, but there have been examples found of clams that weighed as much as ten pounds! Geoduck clams live extremely long lives, on average about 146 years. In fact, this is one of the longest lifespans of any animal species in existence today! There are several reasons for this longevity.
First, geoduck clams have very few predators. Only sea otters, dogfish, and starfish are strong enough to open and feed on the clams. Also, geoduck clams do not do much in order to survive, so their bodies do not have much wear and tear. The way a geoduck clam feeds is by siphoning plankton in, filtering out the food, and ejecting the waste.
Geoduck clams are farmed for their meat. The first fishery was built in 1970, but there was not much demand for the clam until recent years. They are highly prized in Asian cuisine today. In fact, they often sell for as much as thirty US dollars per pound. Geoduck clams are usually eaten cooked but sometimes are prepared in the raw sashimi style. Soy sauce and wasabi are common condiments served with Geoduck meat.
Today the United States benefits highly from the Asian countries taste for Geoduck meat. The geoduck industry brings in eighty million dollars annually in the US and Canada. Geoduck farmers employ special pipes pushed into the sediment in which to raise the clams.
These pipes prevent predators from reaching the young clams. The clams are harvested ever four to six years. Harvesting techniques are very interesting. The farmers spray the area with high-pressure water hoses that liquefy the sediment where the clams are buried. This technique does no harm to the environment around the fishery. In fact, the farming of geoduck clams is actually beneficial to the aquatic environment.
Since geoduck clams eat micro algae. Micro algae grow when there is extra nitrate in the water, and the increase in pollution in our modern society has led to an increase in nitrogen in our waters. The clams eat the excess algae and actually store some of this excess nitrate in their bodies. When they are harvested, the net amount of nitrate in the water is greatly reduced. Geoduck clam farming is growing steadily year-by-year, as it is an extremely profitable enterprise. In fact, each year there are about ten new acres added to the fisheries in the tidelands of Puget Sound.
Some people who own shoreline in the area are not pleased, because sometimes the pipes used to farm the clams can be seen from shore, but in reality, the pipes are only visible about six percent of the daylight time. The economic benefits far outweigh any visual impact. Geoduck clam farming is bringing some much-needed revenue into our northern Pacific shores.
Jerry Cahill is a webmaster and publisher. Some of his work can be found here Geoduck