Clam digging

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– Methods of Clam Digging:
– Amateur digging with spading fork or shovel
– Commercial offshore dredging for quahog and surf clams
– Cultivated clam bed harvesting using smaller tools
– Commercial clamming from flat-decked boats with clam rakes
– Soft-shelled clam digging in Nova Scotia with clam hacks

– Tools Used for Clam Digging:
– Clam hoe and hod for New England coast clam digging
– Prohibition of certain tools in specific areas
– Specialized tongs for bay clamming from a boat
– Clam shovel or tube for razor clam digging in Oregon and Washington
– Clam rake with telescopic handle for offshore commercial clamming

– Popular Locations for Clam Digging:
– Oregon Coast
– Cape Cod, Massachusetts
– Long Island
– Haneda
– Minas Basin area of Nova Scotia

– Related Concepts:
– Clamdigger sculpture by Willem de Kooning
– Clamdigger train along the Northeast Corridor
– Gathering seafood by hand
– Fisheries history and regulations
– Recreational razor clamming in Washington and Oregon

– References:
– Random House Webster’s college dictionary
– Downeast Fisheries Trail information
– Brewster and Chatham shellfish rules and regulations
– Book reference on Jersey Shore fisheries
– Guides on recreational and commercial clamming

Clam digging (Wikipedia)

Clam digging is a North American term for a common way to harvest clams (edible infaunal bivalve mollusks) from below the surface of the tidal sand flats or mud flats where they live. It is done both recreationally (for enjoyment or as a source of food) and commercially (as a source of income). Commercial digging in the U.S. and Canada is colloquially referred to as clamming, and is done by a clammer.

Two clammers on the Oregon Coast
Two people digging for clams on Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 2008
Clam digging on Long Island, 1957 (photo by Toni Frissell)
Clam digging in Haneda, 1937

Amateur clam digging is often done using a straight long-handled spading fork, or a spading shovel.

Commercial clamming for quahog clams, and the larger surf clams (soup clams) is primarily done offshore, via mechanical dredging. To harvest cultivated clam beds, aquaculturists often use a much smaller version (hand pulled) from the offshore dredge. Another form of commercial clamming is done from a flat-decked boat using a clam rake with a telescopic handle. The head of these rakes have long tines attached to a "basket-like" cage in which the clams are collected.

In the Minas Basin area of Nova Scotia, digging for soft-shelled clams is usually done with a clam hack, a spading fork with its short handle bent perpendicularly away from the fork's head. A digger typically uses the hack by grasping the spine of the prongs in one hand and the handle of the fork in the other to push the hack down into the mud, clay, or sand and then pull it up and towards him/herself. This digging action opens up the substrate to expose the clams. Those clams legally long enough (44 mm or 1.7 in in Nova Scotia) are then taken by hand and put into a peck-size (9 litre) bucket that is used to measure the volume of clams collected.

Clam digging on the New England coast is done using a "clam hoe" (a pitchfork with the handle cut off about 18 in or 460 mm from the tines then bent about 70 degrees) and a "hod" or "roller" (a half bushel basket built using wood lathes or wire mesh) and hip waders (boot that extend up to the top of the legs). The use of other tools is prohibited in some areas.

Another popular method for bay clamming is the use of specialized tongs from a boat. Operators use the long tongs to probe the sand for clams. Clam tongs appear very much like two clam rakes with teeth hinged like scissors.

Digging for razor clams using a clam shovel or tube is a family and recreational activity in Oregon and Washington state.

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