Below the Waterline


I was walking the pier and beach in IB as the fog cleared, and saw several people digging for something. They had laid out tape measures, and it appeared they probably weren’t searching for dinner. In fact, they were a professor and several students from Concordia University in Irvine, searching for the sometimes elusive Pismo Clam. They had found several, and one of the students took the time to show me one and explain what they were doing.


They had been in Newport Beach the day before, and only found two. They had already surpassed that feeble haul in a couple hours here.

The study of the clam populations in various places intended to explore responses to several variables, including climate change and the starfish wasting virus, which has led to an explosion in the mussel population in Mexico and probably elsewhere. It must be an exciting, albeit terrifying, time to be a scientist researching populations of species that are so rapidly affected by the slightest of changes in their ecosystem, when those changes are anything but subtle.

Meanwhile, it appears that at least on some beaches, the rest of us could rely on the Pismo Clam for dinner. I would take it if it were prepared in the way this article describes! Especially since who knows if 10 years from now that recipe will be an option for any of us.

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