Razor clam digs

By Michael Carman

Diggers got the go-ahead from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife Thursday to proceed with razor clam digs running through Sunday.

“We had a great tide series of clam digging over Thanksgiving weekend, and we hope the favorable conditions will continue into the December holiday season,” said Bryce Blumenthal, a WDFW coastal shellfish biologist.

Not all beaches are open for every dig, so diggers are encouraged to make sure their intended destination is open before heading out. Optimal digging occurs between one and two hours before the listed time of low tide.

The following digs during afternoon and evening low tides (noon to midnight only) will proceed as scheduled, after marine toxin results from the state Department of Health (DOH) showed razor clams are safe to eat:

• Wednesday, 6:55 p.m.; -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks.

• Thursday, 7;39 p.m.; -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis.

• Friday, Dec. 15: 8:25 p.m.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks.

• Saturday, Dec. 16: 9:12 p.m.; -0.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis.

• Sunday, Dec. 17: 10:01 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks.

The DOH requires test samples for marine toxins, and domoic acid levels must fall under the guideline level before a beach can open for digging.

Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. Final approval usually occurs about a week or less — sometimes two to three days — before the start of each digging series. More information about domoic acid, as well as current levels at ocean beaches, can be found on the WDFW’s domoic acid webpage.

Additional tentative dates in December are Dec. 26-29.

Schedule change

State shellfish managers have agreed to an alternative digging schedule for Copalis and Mocrocks beaches during January and February.

“After considering the potential scheduling change and the public’s feedback, we felt comfortable with altering our current every-other-day schedule,” Blumenthal said. “The tentative Copalis and Mocrocks dates are grouped into two-day blocks of consecutive digs with some single-day digs at the beginning or end of each tide series.”

This approach to offering consecutive open days should reduce confusion as to which beach is open, create more digging opportunity when only one beach is available for harvest, allow for increased digging success due to beach familiarity and reduce travel to and from open beaches.

All the tidal series have a beach switch after the Saturday dig to allow for both beaches to be dug during the weekend. The schedule is also structured so there are equal amounts of Saturdays and Sundays for Copalis and Mocrocks beaches only.

“While we see some potential benefits, we don’t know exactly what the results of this new scheduling will be until we give it a try,” Blumenthal said. “WDFW welcomes additional feedback as we implement this in 2024.”

WDFW is accepting public comments on the proposed change. The public may email their feedback to razorclams@dfw.wa.gov.

On all open beaches, the daily limit is 15 clams per person. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container, and all diggers must keep the first 15 clams they dig, regardless of size or condition, to prevent waste.