Clamcounters wanted

Published on Thu, Jun 16, 2005
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Clam counters wanted

The Whatcom County Marine Resources Committee will be coordinating a survey of clams along the shoreline of Birch Point on Thursday, June 23, and is looking for volunteers ready to dig holes in the sand, identify and count clams, and tuck them back in their beds.
In many Whatcom County shoreline areas, native clams may serve as indicator species, improving understanding of the health of shellfish, water quality impacts, and harvesting impacts.

Volunteers are crucial to enhancement of shellfish and other marine resources. “We need to work together to keep the clam beds productive for future generations,” said Gerald Larson, who leads the clam restoration subcommittee for the Marine Resources Committee.
The Whatcom County Marine Resource Committee is one of seven committees in the Northwest Straits region of Washington State that was created in 1998 by a federal initiative to protect and enhance the local marine environment.

In the summer of 2004, over 40 volunteers helped survey clams in the tidelands of Birch Bay, Semiahmoo Spit and Chuckanut Bay.

“We were able to get a lot of information within the narrow window of the really low tides, thanks to their participation,” said Doug Stark of Whatcom County’s Water Resources Division. The volunteers found 10 different species of clams, identified areas in the mudflats that had a lot of clams or very few clams, and discovered the areas of the mudflats where particular types of clams liked to live.

In Birch Bay, for example, the non-native varnish clam was found in very high densities at shallow depths. The jury, however, is still out on whether this rapidly spreading clam should be labeled invasive since they do not appear to be crowding out other clam populations.

Information from the 2004 survey has already been helpful in creating plans for clam enhancement in Birch Bay, one of the most popular recreational shellfish harvesting areas in Washington state. Results from last year’s clam survey and more about the MRC are on the web at

The survey will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., beginning with a brief training at Semiahmoo Park on how to conduct the survey and identify clams. Registration is required.

For more information or to register as a volunteer for either of the clam surveys, contact Doug Stark at 360/676-6876 or Dstark@