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How to Razor Clam (pdf)
Razor Clams

Click on images to see larger

About Razor Clams

Razor clams (Silqua patula) are found throughout Oregon’s ocean beaches. Clatsop beaches (Columbia River to Seaside) have the most stable populations (because of beach stability), 95 percent of Oregon's razor clam digging occurs here. Other area’s such as, Agate Beach, Waldport Beach, Whiskey Run, Myers Creek, and other beaches along the coast also have razor clam populations, but tend to be less available.

Digging razor clams is a challenging and fun recreational pastime with delicious rewards. See our how to dig razor clams for some fundamental skills. Proper digging techniques can improve your success and help prevent wastage.

razor dug in

FAQs

What is the pink worm-like creature I found in my razor clam?

This is a nemertean worm (most often Malacobdella grossa) that lives commensally in the siphon or body cavity of the clam. They are occasionally found in razor clams that are in their second year of life or older. The worm's appearance often causes harvesters to be concerned, but they are not harmful to the clam or the consumer.

More on Malacobdella worms here

Is razor clamming open?

Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) in cooperation with ODFW and other agencies collects and tests razor clams during most low tide series:

Why does razor clamming close?

Domoic acid, a powerful toxin is most frequently the reason for razor clam closures. This toxin occurs naturally and is not new to the west coast., our understanding of it however is: Domoic acid and PSP

Seasonal closures (July 15 to September 30) on Clatsop beaches are in place to protect  juvenile clams, which are most vulnerable at those times. See our life history or wastage pages for background on this aspect of the season.

Can I cook, freeze, or cut these toxins out?

No, since the toxin is a chemical it cannot be cooked out as in the bacteria found in other meats. Razor clams store this microscopic toxin in many fleshy places within their bodies so physical removal is impossible. Domoic acid and PSP

Do razor clams move up and down the beach?

No, razor clams cannot move horizontally along the beach, vertical movement however is common for clams adjusting to shifting sands, heavy surf, and predators. See our razor clam behavior page for more information.

How long do razor clams live?

Razor clams in Oregon can live 5 or 6 years and reach a size of 6 inches. Razor Clam Life History

How old are the razor clams I harvest?

The majority of sport and commercial razor clam catch in Oregon are 2 year olds. Annual rings can be read similar to methods used for ageing trees, but requires a trained eye. The razor clams pictured above are 2 and 3 year olds.

Where's the best razor clamming?

Razor clams are found throughout Oregon’s ocean beaches. Clatsop beaches (Columbia River to Seaside) have the most abundant populations, 95 percent of Oregon's razor clam digging occurs here. Other area’s that can produce clams are Indian Beach (Cannon Beach); Cannon Beach; Cove Beach; Short Sands; Cape Meares Beach; Agate Beach; North Beach and South Beach (Newport); Waldport Beach; North Umpqua Spit ; Bastendorff Beach and North Spit (Coos Bay); Whiskey Run (Bandon); and Meyers Creek Beach (Gold Beach).

How big do Oregon razor clams get?

In 2013, a 6.5" razor clam was harvested at Clatsop Beach, this was the largest one found in creel surveys in many years.

Big Razor Clam

Why are they called razor clams?

If you become careless in your digging for razor clams you could find out the hard way.  Razor clam shells are thin and relatively brittle, so if cracked they create a very sharp edge, like a razor, that have been known to cut many of harvester fingers and hands.

When are the Washington State beaches open for razor clam digging?

Check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife razor clam website.

How many clams are harvested in a year?

The following graph shows estimated harvest rates at Clatsop beaches from 1955 to 2012. click image to see larger

clatsop harvest

Q. I have a hard time digging clams or cannot dig them at all due to a disability. Is there a permit that allows for someone else to assist me in digging clams?

A. Yes. ODFW offers a disabled clam diggers permit for those individuals who have written certification from a licensed physician that they meet certain criteria. The application can be found <Here>.

Individuals that already possess and Oregon Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permit, Disabled Veterans License, Wheelchair Angler License, or a Blind Angler License, issued by ODFW, may use those instead of the Disabled Clam Digger Permit.  A recreational shellfish license is still required.

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