Pacific razor clams (scientific name: Siliqua patula) are an extremely meaty shellfish that is typically found along the west coast between California and Alaska. They are quite common along sandy beaches, especially in areas where the surf can frequently hit the beach. They can even live up to a mile offshore though most clams found in water any deeper than 30 feet are usually a different species.
Growth & Mortality
The maximum length of most razor clams found between California and Washington is six inches. While some have been discovered at seven inches, they are extraordinarily rare. The typical life expectancy is around five years though it depends on many factors. These clams tend to suffer if there’s a large population of Dungeness crabs nearby as they’re a staple of their diet. Shore birds and other species of fish also tend to prey upon the clam, in addition to the many clammers digging on the beach.
In Alaska the razor clams can grow up to 11 inches and live up to 15 years thanks to the colder water and lower growth rates.
In the early 1980s a disease was discovered that caused a huge portions of the clams to die off. Little is known of the disease or how long it’s been affecting clam populations across the west coast.
Where are Razor Clams found?
Razor clams are primarily found on what are called intertidal coastal regions which are beaches that are exposed to a low tide. So long as a beach ranges between a +3 foot water level to a -2 foot level, you should be able to find razor clams.
Most of the commercially harvested razor clams are found on sand spits in the Wallapa Bay and the Quinault Indian Reservation.