"There's kind of an obsession. People get obsessed with razor clamming,” said David Berger. He should know – he’s the author of the newly released book Razor Clams - Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest.
During the first dig of the season on Washington’s coast, we met him at the Ocean Crest Resort, a destination that's drawn coastal clammers for generations, and he talked about why people are compelled to quest for the clam.
"It's an adventure for sure. Coming out to razor clam is a great adventure."
Recreational razor clamming is only open a few days at a time, and during the lowest tides. A shellfish license is required to dig, and the limit is 15 clams per person in Washington.
"The general advice is you get there about 2 hours before low tide and you walk down to the surf. And you start looking for the clam shows.” He said, pointing out the holes with raised edges in the sand, that indicate a clam is buried below.
Diggers use a shovel, like Berger, or a clam tube to pursue the clams. And you’ve got to be fast.
“You don't always get it quick, the clams can dig down. These are clams you kind of have to chase,” Berger explained.
"Razor Clamming is one person, one clam, Mano et Mano. It's a hunt."
Berger pointed out that razor clamming is an all ages activity, and you’ll see everyone from kids to elders out hunting for clams. And as the sun goes down, the hunt continues. People put on headlamps and turn on lanterns, and continue their quest. After sunset, you can see the glow of lights for miles up and down the beach.
“You see this whole expanse of humanity working together, as a community. It's a communal activity. This is also very heartwarming, to see everybody engaged in this activity.” Berger said.
David Berger is speaking at Seward Park Audubon on Saturday Nov. 4, which is also another clam dig date.
For information about future razor clam digs, go to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Webpage.