Monday, March 2, 2009

Northwest Native Animals: The Geoduck

So, here's another post about a weird animal that many have never even heard of, and most probably don't care about. However, being from the Pacific Northwest, I have a strange love affair with the species of clam known as a Geoduck (pronounced Gooey Duck!).

Quick and dirty: the geoduck is an oversized clam, with shell sizes ranging from 7 to 9 inches in diameter. But the amazing feature of this bivalve is not the shell size but the length of the odd siphon (or nose, or tongue or what have you) that protrudes from it. There have been specimens found that are up to 6 feet in length, however most are not nearly that long.

Geoducks have one of the longest life spans in the animal world, coming in close to tortoises with an average life expectancy of 146 years. They have few natural predators and can reproduce like rabbits. The female geoduck can produce 5 billion eggs in her lifetime (that's almost an entire new planet of people).

These creatures are native to the northwest coast of the US and Canada and it gets its name from the Nisqually word for "dig deep." It is still possible to go hunting for them along the beaches. You know you have happened upon a geoduck when you step in the sand and water is squirted out at you. Dig a few inches and they are easy to spot. This unique animal looks like a freak of nature, but really it's nature at its best, with an almost infallible design that has been working for millions of years.

But if you pick one up, please put it back. They enjoy the beach more than your kitchen.

More About the Geoduck
And More
And Even More

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