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Bay Clam FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Bay Clams

Q. Is bay clamming open?

A. Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) in cooperation with ODFW and other agencies collects and tests bay clams during most low tide series, particularly in the summer when PSP (Paralytic Shellfish Poisioning) can be an issue. Their website provides up to date shellfish safety closure information. You can also call the toll free ODA shellfish hotline 1-800-448-2474.

Q. Why does razor clamming close more often than bay clams?

A. Domoic acid, a powerful toxin recently is the most frequently the reason for razor clam closures. Being in bays, bay clams are less exposed to the primarily oceanic blooms of domoic acid. These blooms occasionally enter into bays, however bay clam species tend to expel these toxins I mmediately and do not retain them in fatty tissues as the razor clam does. See Biotoxins for more information.

Q. Can I harvest oysters recreationally?

A. No, recreational oyster harvest is prohibited. Olympia oysters (native) are recovering from dramatic population declines of the last century. Pacific oysters are only farmed in Oregon and do not occur naturally, they are private property of shellfish growers who farm shellfish. See our oyster page for further information. \

Q. What are those crabs in gaper clams?

A. Gaper pea crabs (Pinnixia fabia)

More about gaper pea crabs

Q. How long do bay clams live?

A. Many common bay clams found in Oregon have a maximum life expectancy of between 5 and 20 years. Geoducks, a rare find in Oregon, are a notable exception to these shorter lived species, they have been aged at beyond 140 years and are one of the longest lived animals in the world.

Q. Where's the best bay clamming?

A. See our "where to dig" section. Generally speaking, the most popular areas for bay clamming are Coos, Yaquina, Tillamook, and Netarts Bays.

Q. What's that long clear stick looking thing in a clam?

A. It is called a crystalline style which is an element of the digestive tract. The style is secreted by the style sac which is an expansion of the stomach. It contains only digestive enzymes which are progressively dissolved in the stomach and takes part to the digestive process.

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 (pdf). A recreational shellfish license is still required.


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