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Razor Clam Research

ODFW Marine Resource Program (MRP) Astoria office shellfish staff began annual razor clam stock assessment research in 2004 on the Clatsop beaches. This is the only program of its kind in Oregon.

Accurate assessments of razor clam populations help ODFW understand and manage razor clams for now and the future. Below is a description of how the razor clam surveys are conducted. Click on any images to zoom in.


Conducted in the 18 mile stretch of beaches from the mouth of the Columbia River to Seaside, where 90 percent of the states razor clamming effort occurs.

Transects are chosen randomly on an annual basis from each mile of the Clatsop beaches.
where its done
Where research is done


Throughout the summer months, when tides are at their lowest.

Because sampling starts two hours before peak low tides, it's not unusual to start in the moonlight.


 When its done
When research is done


Walking up the beach along the randomly chosen transects, biologists determine the elevation of the highest razor clam show. Sampling begins 15 meters above the highest show. Six points, each 0.5 meter diameter and 1.25 meters deep, are sampled either north or south of the center of the transect. The next set of samples is completed 15 meters seaward of the last elevation line, until reaching the low tide water line (see transect map diagram).

Clams are counted, measured and then returned to the sand, positioned so they are able to dig back down.

transect map
Transect map - click image to see larger


Some early morning sampling
floating clam
Each sample point is liquefied to 4 feet causing clams within the sample to float
clam measurement
Clams are counted and measured


results of beach sample
Sampling points after sampling has occurred
Razor dug in
Finally they are replaced with their umbo towards the ocean to dig back in.


In this graph, average density of razor clams within a meter squared area are shown for each year, based on survey results.


Click on images to see larger


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