Home Politics Praise for the Razor Clam

Praise for the Razor Clam

Clammers dig deep into the sand on the Washington coast in search of razor clams. About 2.3 million razor clams were dug up on the state's beaches in 2017-18.

by Bruce Rutledge, the North American Post

Who says Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on anything these days? Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, and Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, have submitted a proposal to the legislature to designate the razor clam the state clam of Washington.

“The Pacific razor clam, Siliqua patula, is endemic to the Pacific Northwest, abundant
on Washington’s sandy coastal beaches, and an important part of the cultural identity of
the state,” the bill in part reads. “Armed with clam shovels and tubes, Washingtonians in
recent years have harvested as many as eight million clams annually. The oblong shell of the Pacific razor clam is golden-hued, symmetrical, and especially handsome. The flesh is meaty and makes for premier table fare and a healthy, organic, wild food
source.”

If the bill is passed, the razor clam will join the ranks of the Walla Walla sweet onion and the orca as state symbols.

In the 2017-18 season, about 2.3 million razor clams were dug up on Washington beaches, according to the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. The tradition goes back centuries for coastal tribes. Coastal communities have been holding razor clam festivals since the 1940s. In Long Beach, a giant razor clam statue stands alongside a huge frying pan. Clamming is in Western Washington’s DNA.

David Berger, author of Razor Clams: Buried Treasure of the Northwest (University of Washington Press), traveled to Olympia last week to give public testimony in favor of the bill. “One unexpected event: An 8-year-old clammer showed up with his dad and read remarks he had prepared himself, because he loves razor clamming so much. It blew me away,” Berger wrote in an email to friends.

The bill now needs to move out of committee. The cities of Ocean Shores and Long Beach have written letters of support. There is an online petition people can sign to show their support for the bill.

*Online Petition at Project Razor Clam: http://projectrazorclam.org/petition/

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Bruce Rutledge worked as a journalist in Japan for 15 years before moving to Seattle to found Chin Music Press, an independent book publisher located in Seattle's historic Pike Place Market.