The Human Dimension of Marine Reserves

Mission:  To inherit the knowledge of every place and people I call home. 

 

There’s a first for everything. First job, first road trip, first time meeting the people you now cherish. Being a Summer Scholar promises to be full of firsts: this will be the longest that I have been away from home (Seattle, WA), is my first time doing human dimensions research, is my initiation into the world of working for the government and policy-related work, and is my first internship. I am incredibly grateful that the Oregon Sea Grant in association with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife trusted me to do this work and brought me to where I am today.

Also, thank you mom, dad, loved ones, and my extended family at the University of Washington for all you have poured into me.

Me on Nye Beach at sunset

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For the next ten weeks I will be working with the ODFW’s Marine Reserves Program on the Human Dimensions Research Project. This type of work is fascinating, but ultimately I selected this project because of who would become my mentors.  Tommy Swearingen is the project leader and is a one man show of expertise, initiative, and charisma. He oversees at least 15 different studies that assess the socioeconomic impacts of marine reserve implementation. He has had a Summer Scholar under his wing every year since he was brought onto the team. Being a mentor to him means more than just supplying interns with work–he wants to understand where they come from, and how he can best help them become fully immersed in the work and contribute to their future goals. He is a researcher, but also a teacher. In only the first week under his tutelage, I have gained a comprehensive understanding of the history of Oregon’s coastal communities and of the scope of the Human Dimensions Research Project.

Fishing vessel at dusk approaching the Yaquina Bay Bridge

To ensure the marine reserves are not adversely affecting coastal residents, Tommy and his associates have collected socioeconomic data on the scale of communities to individuals. Seeing as the reserves only make up 3% of Oregon’s coastal area, these effects are difficult to disentangle from larger trends. This is where studies on the individual level–specifically of well-being, world view, and feelings–become crucial. For this, you need an anthropologist.

Specifically, you need Elizabeth Marino. Beth is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at OSU-Cascades, and every now and then she will be driving down from Bend, OR to conduct interviews on fishers and to mentor me. I am inspired by her outlook, knowledge, empathy, and dedication to her work. Just to give you an idea of her background, Beth is the author of Fierce Climate, Sacred Ground: An Ethnography of Climate Change in Shishmaref, Alaska. This documents her decade-long research on some of the first climate refugees, the Iñupiaq people, who are running out of time while their home is engulfed by the sea. Needless to say, her work has real-world consequences.

I am humbled to be working under these incredible researchers and people. By the week’s end, I now know where I fit into the Human Dimensions Research Project:

  • First and foremost, I will be conducting interviews of fishers on their knowledge of the local ocean–which can span back five generations–and on how marine reserves might be affecting their livelihoods. Giving them a voice just might reveal effects that quantitative data fails to do alone.
  • Secondly, I am already in the process of coding (aka categorizing) open-ended responses of a well-being survey of coastal residents. This converts qualitative responses to quantitative data, which could reveal how geography, community culture, and economic well-being all correspond to people’s feelings. It also speaks to what people value and how much they are willing to give up for these values.
  • Lastly, I will be trained on how to maintain an ongoing database of the economic status of coastal communities.

I am beyond excited to see where this work takes me.

Other snapshots from my first week in Newport, OR, my home for this summer:

(Almost) every OSG Summer Scholar working at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. From left to right: Me, Abby Ernest-Beck (EPA), Dani Hanelin (ODFW), and Taylor Ely (ODFW-Marine Reserves). Not pictured + photocreds: Anna Bolm (USDA).

The expanse of Nye Beach, the first beach I visited upon arriving in Newport, looking at Yaquina Head.

A lush beach-side cliff of salal. Coming from a background in both terrestrial and marine science, I am seeing from daily excursions how the ecology of coastal Oregon is not very different from that of western Washington. It feels like home–except with massive beaches of soft sand.

Some of my new friends on the Sea Lion Docks in South Beach.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which we visited the very next day.

Silhouette at sunset. Each day is full here.

 

 

Starting out as Malouf Scholar, ODFW Marine Team, and deep-sea research on the Okeanos

Every day I get to go out on the Ocean I feel like the luckiest person in the world!

I was in Portland OR, attending the Ecological Society of America (ESA) meeting, when I first heard the good news that I had gotten the Malouf Marine Studies Scholarship! I could not believe it, and was so exited. I ran all over the Oregon Convention Center, trying to find my adviser to tell him the good news! I finally had the funding to start doing field work and begin my PhD research.

During September I had my first chance to go out with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) Marine Reserves Team, and learn how their Hook and Line survey methods works. A method I plan to use as part of my research.  I learned so much those few days I was out there with ODFW’s David Wagman (also known as Wolfe, bottom left). He is a really good mentor and gave me great suggestions on how to improve my proposed research.

Photos: Alex Avila, Participating in ODFW’s Hook and Line Surveys

Photo: Alex Avila. Wolfe measuring fish

Unfortunately that was the last outing of the season. I need to finish writing all my permit application in the winter in order to be ready to hit the ground running next year.

NOAA scholarships have given me the opportunities I would have never even dream possible. Just like Oregon Sea Grant is part of NOAA Sea Grant College program , so is another scholarship that has greatly impacted my life, the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship, from NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. I’m currently serving aboard the NOAA ship Okeanos in the Gulf of Mexico, as part of a program collaboration opportunity that was given to me as a Dr. Nancy Foster scholar. I’m here to serve as in data logging and samples processing. At the end of the expedition I will be writing a report that will help prioritize data for researchers, ensuring that the data can be efficiently used.

Photo courtesy of NOAA Office of Exploration and Research (OER)

Photo courtesy of NOAA Office of Exploration and Research (OER)

The  NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer expedition is running from November 29 through December 21 2017, and is investigating deep-sea habitats and the associated marine communities in the Gulf of Mexico basin. Through the Okeanos expedition,  other researchers and I, are exploring and discovering vulnerable marine habitats and investigating areas relevant to resource managers, submerged cultural heritage sites,  and marine protected areas. Okeanos is equipped with telepresence, meaning people on shore – whether scientists or the general public – and anyone can watch the remotely operated vehicle (ROVs) dives live in real time (click here to stream video).  In fact, next week, we will be conducting a Facebook Live event from the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in the Gulf of Mexico this Tuesday, December 12th 2017 at 11:00 am PST  (2:00 pm EST). Science Co-lead Dr. Diva Amon, Expedition Coordinator Brian Kennedy, and I will be there to answer everyone questions! Check out Diva’s, NOAA’s OER and my twitter profiles for daily updates from the Okeanos!

Left to right: Diva Amon, Brian Kennedy, Alex Avila. Photo courtesy of NOAA Office of Exploration and Research (OER)

 

 

Giving Thanks

I couldn’t think of a better last day than having it be the last Shop at the Dock. I spent Thursday making some baked goods to thank all of the fishermen who participated in the program (and tolerated our presence on the docks). Through all of the events, the best part was getting to see how grateful participants and fishermen were and I’m lucky to have been a part of it.

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I am unbelievably proud of this.

With the program over, I’ll look forward to spending some time with my family, getting in some traveling, and finding a job. I’ve always been interested in science and education. Helping with Shop at the Dock and being a part of Sea Grant has solidified my interest in pursuing both. It was really great seeing what a powerful tool education can be and I’d like to find a career where I can incorporate education and outreach with science.

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So long Sea Grant

I wanted to finish off by thanking the village of people who worked so hard to make this summer happen. So thanks Haley, Mary, Sarah and every other Sea Grant employee who made the Summer Scholars Program possible. I am eternally grateful to my mentors, Kaety Jacobson and Kelsey Miller, for the wealth of information, the never-ending guidance and support, and for being a constant source of inspiration. Also huge thanks to the rest of the Shop at the Dock crew- Jess Porquez, Amanda Gladics, and Mark Farley- for teaching me about Newport, fisheries, different career paths, and how to be understanding and gracious towards others with conflicting opinions.

Thank you to my fellow Summer Scholars, who made this summer unforgettable. I’m so grateful to have been surrounded by such incredible, kind, and caring people and I will miss you all dearly. Cheers to the many outdoor adventures, the endless sass and sarcasm, the great meals and conversations, and everything in between.

And finally, thanks very much for reading and (hopefully) listening along with me. I’ll finish this post with my final song of the summer from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros called Home. Partly because I’m happy to be headed home for a bit, but mostly because I’m so grateful to have found a little piece of home along the Oregon Coast. Newport, you will be missed.

Talk to Strangers

Communication is easy these days… but it also is not.

With the plethora of electronic devices and media sharing platforms right at our fingertips, we are bombarded with information about so many different things that it can be tough to retain the full message.

Something that struck me about my research this summer was that of the 600+ individuals who responded to my ocean awareness survey, a good majority of them indicated the Internet or social media was their preferred method of receiving information about ocean issues. This got me thinking…

Social media can be an enjoyable way to get a quick glimpse into an issue or topic relating to science and I’ll admit I’ve learned a thing or two scrolling through Facebook. But I’m not convinced something like Facebook is the best platform for the kind of communication the public needs. It’s a quick click and that’s it, since many of us don’t take the time to fully read through an article. But you can’t blame social media, because that’s what it’s there for: a convenient offering of information that we would not take the time to look up otherwise.

As sort of a theme of this summer, science communication is a crucial step toward any effort in conservation. When it boils down to it, really the objective of my summer was talking to strangers to gather useful information relating to science communication. And I found that you learn a lot just by talking to people. One thing I learned is that people generally seemed to care and be interested in the subject of ocean threats, and that was encouraging. But when they were asked on my survey whether it is easy to obtain information about the topic of ocean issues, I frequently heard individuals say something like, “I’m sure it is, but I haven’t taken the time to look!

In a way, I think I kind of stood in as the social media here. While my role wasn’t to directly educate the public, I was offering a glimpse into several ocean issues that some people had not heard about before. More often than not, those who filled out my survey told me they were going to go home and do some research on these issues because they are eager to learn more. And that was really cool to see the impact of my work.

So my simple solution is this: talk to strangers. There is such an abundance of information presented in many different ways out there on the Internet, but if we get some real conversation flowing, I think progress can be made. At the end of the day, you’re going to remember the interactions you had with people much more than those with your computer. So why not pose a question to a stranger about an environmental issue? The responses are not always going to be positive, but I am hopeful that it’s a start to getting people thinking in ways they hadn’t before.

 

Final Survey Count: 629 completed

Whale Count: 29 sightings

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

I’ve been writing about buying seafood directly from local fishermen for weeks now. While I’d had fresh and local seafood, I had yet to purchase anything off the docks myself. With the summer almost over, I decided it was time to put my money where my mouth was and seize the oppor-tuna-ty to buy something at Shop at the Dock (writing posts for the Fisheries Extension Facebook page has brought out the best of my fish puns).

At the end of Shop at the Dock, I stopped at F/V (fishing vessel) Triggerfish to complete my survey and placed an order for a tuna. Triggerfish is owned by brothers, Ernie and Joe. Like many other boats, they often fish at the beginning of the week and come back Thursday night or Friday morning to sell off the docks over the weekend. Alternatively, there are boats like H/F/V (historic fishing vessel) Chelsea Rose that are essentially floating fish markets. Their seafood comes from other boats they own and other fishermen, so they are able to stay docked everyday.

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Joe showing off a beautiful 50 lb. tuna

Tunas average 10-20 lbs, but some can get MUCH larger. It is priced per pound for the whole fish and there is an additional fillet charge. I asked for a 14 lb fish, so Ernie weighed several fish until he got one about that size. The recovery rate (the amount of meat recovered after filleting) is roughly 50-60% for tuna, so I was to expect about 7-9 lbs of meat.

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Ernie picking out a tuna

There are a couple of things to do to ensure the freshness and quality of your fish:

  1. Ask when the trip started- fishing trips can last multiple days, so that’s the earliest it could have been caught
  2. Ask how the fish was cooled down- tuna are very warm fish and quality can decrease if it is cooled slowly
  3. Inspect the fish to ensure its quality (clear eyes, scales and gills still in tact)

I already knew that I wanted to split a fish with my mentor, so once I was satisfied with the fish, I asked for it filleted and split in half. It’s regulation that boats sell whole fish to avoid contamination, but most boats are willing to split the fish for you so you can purchase with other people. I made sure to bring a hot-cold bag and cash to pay for the fish (because most don’t take cards).

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Brothers who fillet together…

I kept the tuna on ice and when dinner came around I marinated it in brown sugar, soy sauce and garlic. I ended up having it raw, seared and barbecued and it all tasted fantastic. There is something really thrilling about knowing where your food is coming from. I love that I was able to see a whole tuna fresh from the ocean in the morning and eat it for dinner a couple hours later. It was quite the experience and I know I’ll definitely miss Newport’s seafood at the end of this summer.

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Mmmm

That’s all for now. Thanks as always for reading!

Whale Said

Whales are neat. Well, that’s my opinion at least and I hope you feel the same way by the end of these short paragraphs. Recently, I’ve become so attuned to searching for whales while conducting visitor surveys on the Oregon coast that the visitors at Depot Bay ask me questions about the whales as I stand there in my ODFW hat. I graciously answer to the best of my ability, making it clear that I am far from an expert on the topic and then let them know that I am actually studying humans (but maybe we’re more or less one in the same).

Whale-watching zodiac.

I’ve been envious of the visitors who share stories about their whale watching tour in Depot Bay. It just so happens that the REU students who live next door were going whale watching this weekend and they invited the Sea Grant scholars to tag along for a discount price. I had heard a couple of months back about a whale researcher in Depot Bay, named Carrie. As it turns out, Carrie Newell was the one who generously offered the Hatfield interns a discount on a private whale-watching excursion early Sunday morning.

Carrie and the Hatfield interns spotting whales.

As if Carrie’s energy and passion for her work wasn’t encouraging enough, something that her coworker Captain Dan said out on the water really struck a cord with me. As we approached a female whale in our zodiac, she flashed her fluke and dove down, leaving everyone in a moment of silent awe. Captain Dan then started explaining to us how this whale (Ginger was her name) seems to always fluke and each of the resident whales in Oregon has their own identifiable characteristic. He said he even has suspicion that at least one of the whales intentionally tries to sneak up and startle everyone in the boat. It was then that Captain Dan said, “You know, I’ve learned a lot from Carrie and from the textbooks, but no one can teach you about the personality of these animals until you’re out here with them every day.”

Carrie Newell and her first mate Kida.

I think what Captain Dan said resonated with me for a couple of reasons. First, whales are intelligent and social animals, just like humans. Humans tend to feel a strong connection to what they can relate to. Second, I am perpetually fascinated by how little we know about our expansive ocean and find it humbling to think about. Reflecting a little more deeply on the second thought, I realized individuality defines a lot more than a biology textbook could explain. If whales really are trying to playfully spook people in a boat as Captain Dan suspects, then perhaps they really are a lot more like us than we think.

Captain Dan.

Over the years, humans and whales have had a relationship that some might call “complicated.” I think now, more than ever, through the powerful influence of media and the efforts of Greenpeace, people want to save whales and dolphins rather than exploit them as a natural resource. If we could all take the time to connect a little more closely with the environment around us, I think we might learn a lot from those who share this planet with us.

Fluke of Ginger the gray whale.

The Big Blue

As a child, my mother instilled in me her love of birds. I used to sit with her field guides and identify species as they landed on the feeders just outside our windows. My mom further encouraged my fascination by allowing me to incubate quail eggs and raise both ducks and chickens. Her only objections came when I set live traps with seed near her feeders. Nonetheless, I was destined to be a birder. Of all the bird species I have encountered, my favorite remains the long-legged bird I grew up watching hunt at the lake by my house: The Great Blue Heron.

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Blue herons are large birds with wingspans reaching up to 6 feet. Adults display greyish blue bodies with long black plumes flowing off the back of their heads and thighs the color of pine bark. When they fly, their long necks coil back much like a snake ready to strike. These birds have specialized feathers on their chest that are continuously growing, similar to hair. Blue herons grip these feathers with their feet and use them like washcloths to remove fish oils and other slime from their feathers. Little known fact: there is a white color variant great blue heron found in southern Florida and Eastern Mexico. (See picture below) #NotAnEgret

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These magnificent creatures are also deeply integrated into the fabric of the food webs they reside in. The blue heron’s predator-prey interactions have shown to be quite complex. For instance, in the Southeastern United States, blue heron nest colonies are commonly found above alligator infested waters. While this might seem unusual, this is a mutualistic relationship. By nesting in the trees above alligator territory, herons make it difficult for other animals to climb up and eat their eggs. Waterbirds typically hatch more offspring than they can feed. Runts are bumped out by larger chicks and become alligator food. Furthermore, the birds’ feces adds nutrients to ground below nests, leading to a higher abundance of fish and reptiles… food for both species.

*Pictured below is a great blue heron making off with a young alligator.*

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In my mind, blue herons are the ecological masters of North America. What about bears and other predatory mammals, you say?  While these types of creatures can overpower all they encounter and have no natural predators, they are not necessarily the best adapted species for the environments of our continent. In winter months, when food is scarce, bears are forced to hibernate and wolves must travel long distances in pursuit of infrequent prey. Blue herons, on the other hand, simply fly to warmer climates where food is abundant. Wings seem to be a necessary adaptation when conquering the environments of an entire continent. Wings allow blue herons to spend their summers from Alaska to Nova Scotia and their winters anywhere from the Galapagos Islands to the West Indies.

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Wings are not the only attribute that makes the great blue heron note worthy. Birds of Prey, such as the bald eagle, also have wings, but these birds’ distribution and territory is limited by foraging strategy and diet. When bald eagles hunt, they perch on branches overlooking bodies of water and wait for a fish to present itself. In contrast, blue herons actively forage for prey in the water and feed on a wider variety of organisms, including: shrimp, crabs, aquatic insects, fish, snakes, lizards, frogs, rodents, and small birds. Their diverse diet is plentiful and evenly distributed, enabling them remain further north later into winter. This allows them to dominate territory with little to no competition.

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I have a tendency to regularly encounter these birds. I have seen them spear sea trout on the flats of gulf coast barrier islands, perch along Appalachian Mountain streams, and pluck Dungeness from Oregon’s estuaries. Every time I see a blue heron, I’m filled with a sense of security and amazement that makes me feel like a child. I like to think of them as a good omen and a reminder that my home is greater than the state I was raised in.

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I’m not exactly sure where my love for these birds comes from, but they seem to be a pretty common theme in my life. It might come as no surprise that the organization I volunteer for back home and the research reserve I was placed at through the Summer Scholars program share a particular mascot…

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An Update from the South Coast

A lot has happened since my last post. This week alone I have worked on an ODFW lamprey assessment by electrofishing Winchester Creek’s headwaters, participated in a Sea Grant funded eel grass monitoring survey, and seined for juvenile fish with visiting scientists from OSU. Most importantly, I have successfully completed all of my crab sampling in the South Slough Research Reserve. After deploying 160 traps, I processed over 2,100 crabs in just 12 days. Of these only 86 were the invasive green crabs I was targeting.

Though I had wished to collected more data on the species, my mentor and her colleagues were pleased with my results. I found green crabs in locations they have never been found before. My data also indicates the highest abundance of these crabs in the Coos estuary in the last 19 years. I am currently collaborating with a professor from OSU to publish a report on the status of the European Green Crab along Oregon’s Coast. Please enjoy the pictures below taken on my last day of sampling.

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Have a Goal in Sight? Throw Yourself at it.

I don’t want to resort to the old cliché, “the mountains are calling and I must go,” but I answered that call this weekend. It’s been a while since I’ve spent much time rolling ankles over stubborn roots and scrambling over precarious rocks. Despite the fact that I couldn’t find a hiking buddy, I still found it easy to justify a weekend among the peaks where John Muir felt most at home.

Hitting the trail early with a goal in view.

Back in the East, I tackled mountains every weekend I could. I come from the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, where a two-hour drive to the highest peaks in New York State coupled with a breakfast of gas station coffee and a banana is a regular Saturday routine. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I live for the 4am mornings, finding my way on the trail under headlamp, but I’ve become so accustomed to that groggy early-morning feeling that it’s almost nostalgic.

Early morning wake up with headlamp.

Once I did some research on the Cascades of Oregon and heard you could summit Oregon’s third highest peak in a day, I was up for the challenge. My tent was already in my car so I smeared some peanut butter and jelly on bread, called it a dinner and hit the road. That night, I tossed and turned on my inflatable sleeping pad, anxiously going over the hike in my mind as if it were a documentary film.

Looking down of Teardrop pool, Oregon’s highest lake, from the loose rock trail.

Now is probably a good time to acknowledge the fact that this is my first time ascending to 10,000 plus feet of elevation on-foot, not to mention that I drove from sea-level. I’ve hiked a similar prominence before, but never to an altitude this high. My body wasn’t exactly thanking me for the elevation change as my lungs panted for air and my head pounded with an unforeseen headache.

Farther than it looks, the summit looms over this steep scramble.

Like most hikes, I had reached that low feeling on the climb where I questioned if I could persist to the summit. The strangest part for me was that I could see where I was headed throughout the entire hike, but never really had a sense of how long it would take me to get there. I’m so acquainted with hiking through dense forest until the trail spits you out above the tree line just a few hundred yards from the summit. This was different.

The final steps to the summit of South Sister.

Perception is a funny thing. On a mountain, it can take your senses for a wild ride. Unsure of when the steep, scree-scrambling climb would end, I focused my eyes on my feet, switched to autopilot and let faith take me the rest of the undetermined distance to the summit. Then, as quickly as the questionable feelings set in, I was confident and pulsing with adrenaline as I lifted my eyes. The summit view was indescribable and clear enough to see as far as Mount Rainier. My head was clear too and I questioned why I even questioned myself in the first place.

Mission accomplished!

In that moment, the summit is the quite literally the peak of the experience. But in the end, it’s about the journey and the people you meet. I was fortunate enough to make friends with a couple from Australia who became my hiking buddies as we followed the loose-cinder trail back down the south side of the volcanic peak. There’s something to be said about a cooperative crew of people on the same path with the same goal in mind.

Stopped for a swim at Moraine Lake after descending.

Don’t Be Shellfish

Eat local. That’s a phrase we hear fairly often these days, especially with the Locavore movement and all its counterparts. After learning throughout my college years how to be a more conscious consumer of food, I’ve always found it both challenging and exciting to eat locally and seasonally.

Two locals harvest their dinner at North Beach, Newport OR.

Here on the Oregon coast, seafood is what’s in season, but of course there are many challenges to being a conscious consumer of seafood. A large part of this is due to a disconnect between consumers and where their seafood is coming from. So how do you ensure the food you’re eating is local, in season and sustainable? One solution (and a fun one at that) is to harvest for yourself!

My roommate Ed digs for razor clams near the North Jetty in Newport, OR.

I have to admit, one of the most exciting outings so far in Oregon has been right across the bay. As the tide goes out at the beach, there is a whole community of marine organisms living right beneath your feet. Some of them might make a tasty meal if you’re lucky enough and know what to look for. Razor clams are not the easiest clams to pursue if you’re an amateur, but certainly worth the effort.

Pacific Razor Clam.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with catching a razor clam, it goes a little something like this:

  • Step 1: Acquire shovel and bucket
  • Step 2: Find a beach where razor clams may live and wait for a minus low tide
  • Step 3: Run around stomping your feet and look for a tiny depression to form in the sand around you
  • Step 4: Start digging faster than the clam can burrow

Of course that’s not exactly how everyone does it, but it’s sort of a cool excuse to stomp around on the beach and dig holes in the sand just like we all did as a kid. Not to mention, you really have to be sharp with your vision to spot a razor clam (pun intended). A “show,” as they call it, is the little dimple that forms when the clam feels you stomping and starts to dig toward safety. As you can imagine, with an entire community of burrowing organisms (snails, shrimp, crabs, etc) making their own holes and mounds of sand, it can be quite confusing to know what you’re looking for.

Ed digs through a wet slurry of sand and seawater to catch a razor clam.

Once you find a promising show, that’s when the real fun starts. Razor clams can dig fast, and they go deep. These efficient diggers extend their feet downward, while mixing water with sand to make a quicksand mixture that allows them to escape quickly. If you’re an amateur, like my roommate and myself, you may sometimes find dinner slipping away from your fingers after wrestling with a thick slurry of wet sand.

Ed cleans a razor clam to prepare for dinner.

After a morning of chasing razor clams into the sand, Ed and I were able to replace the calories burned digging with a fulfilling meal from local catch. Additionally, I must add that the limit for Pacific Razor Clams is 15 per person per day, but just a few fillets can make a satisfying dinner for one. Catching your limit will definitely help you feed your friends and family, but with sustainability in mind, I might suggest only taking what you need, from different areas of the beach in order to let populations recover. As much fun as it can be to chase razor clams, I think it’s important that we do let some get away, for their sake and for the promise of local, healthy food for generations to come.

A hearty meal of three oven-fried razor clam filets.