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Razor Clamming Opens on Washington Coast for Brief Period

Published 02/19/23 at 7:59 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Razor Clamming Opens on Washington Coast for Brief Period

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(Copalis, Washington) – With razor clamming still closed off along the entire Oregon coast, the remaining hope for many is that some places on the Washington coast would open up. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

That has happened, but only for a few more days – as Washington has stricter conservation rules on the sandy little morsel. However, high waves offshore may create some dangers and put a dampener on these digs.

Two spots have opened up this week: Mockrock beaches started on Friday and Copalis Beach began on Saturday, both allowing for a few days of clamming, albeit staggered and scattered.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) shellfish managers confirmed this week that biotoxin levels were low enough to open these two areas briefly. Copalis Beach will be avaiable for clam digging on February 20 and 22, while Mocrocks is open February 19 and 21.

“The forecast looks good for another six days of razor clam harvest on Copalis and Mocrocks only,” said Bryce Blumenthal earlier this week, a WDFW coastal shellfish biologist. “That combined with later sunsets and deeper low tides should provide plenty of opportunity for successful digging.”

The following digs during evening (p.m.) low tides are left on the schedule:


Photo courtesy WDFW

Feb. 19, Sunday, 6:04 p.m.; -1.5 feet; Mocrocks
Feb. 20, Monday, 6:46 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Copalis
Feb. 21, Tuesday, 7:26 p.m.; -1.0 feet; Mocrocks
Feb. 22, Wednesday, 8:05 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Copalis

However, extremely high waves are expected in many areas of the Washington coast and Oregon coast, although so far the south Oregon coast is the only stretch with dangerous wave advisories.

Even so, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued this warning for both mariners and those onshore:

“A strong northwesterly fetch associated with the frontal system will result in a high probability of wave heights in excess of 20 feet,” the NWS said. “Model guidance indicates peak wave heights around 25 feet late Tuesday night through Wednesday morning. Seas of this magnitude would produce breaker heights to 30 feet on gentle to moderate beach slopes.”

Keep an eye out for any warnings from the Seattle office of the NWS before heading out Tuesday or Wednesday.

The big villain for clam digging along the Washington coast and Oregon shoreline has been the biotoxin domoic acid, which WDFW said has only reached safe levels in Mockrocks and Copalis. Twin Harbor beaches and Long Beach sands have not tested below the safe level yet, but WDFW is optimistic they will at one point and then these areas can get the go-ahead for digs.

Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. WDFW shellfish staff will continue to regularly dig test samples of razor clams to monitor the situation. WDOH requires two test samples taken around seven days apart, must fall under the health guideline level before a beach can reopen for razor clam digging. More information about domoic acid, as well as current levels at ocean beaches, can be found on WDFW's domoic acid webpage.

The daily limit is 15 razor clams per person. Under state law, a daily limit consists of the first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition, and each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container. Digging is prohibited in the razor clam reserve located just south of the Ocean City approach on Copalis, which are marked by 10-foot poles with signs. The most successful digging occurs between one and two hours before the listed time of low tide.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses may be purchased on WDFW’s licensing website, and from hundreds of license vendors around the state. WDFW recommends buying your license before visiting coastal beach communities.

For additional details, go to the WDFW's razor clam webpage and the DOH webpage. To be notified of in-season rule changes as they are announced sign up for email notifications at wdfw.wa.gov/about/lists.

 


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Near Mockrocks, courtesy Washington State Parks

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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