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Two Tides Blog

Cold water sea life blog. Gulf of Maine biologists share their experiences and marine musings from Cobscook Bay on the coast of Maine! Sea life photos, science, and aquarium discussion. Comment and share your stories and questions!

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How to: Collect Razor Clams

 Razor clam 'necks,' or siphons, peeking out of the shells (just barely).

Razor clam 'necks,' or siphons, peeking out of the shells (just barely).

Razor clam shells sometimes litter the beaches, but unless you know what to look for you can dig, and dig, and dig but never find one. They live in a long, deep burrow that allows them the ability to quickly retract their foot and descend deep into the sand beyond the fork tines of the most experienced digger.  

They have a very large t-shaped foot that makes this possible. Typically the razor clam is at the top of his burrow with his short siphons positioned right at the top of the sand. In this way, like any clam, he is able to filter feed plankton by cycling water in and out of his siphons. When I am looking to get a few razor clam specimens, I look for a hole in the sand that is rather oblong or oval in shape. 

 Razor shell clams.

Razor shell clams.

 Bundles of razor clams.

Bundles of razor clams.

In an area with soft-shelled clams, this can be a challenge as there are so many holes to choose from. Razor clams grow an inch or more in length each year. They resemble an old-style straight razor and hence their name. Asian markets are very fond of razor clams, but here in the U.S., it is uncommon to find them available in any seafood market. If you search on Youtube, one will find lots of videos of "salting" razor clams in the U.K. and on the Pacific coast of the U.S.

Good luck!

Tidepool Tim