Why are hundreds of clams showing up on Pismo beach, California?

Pismo clams on beach

Pismo clams on beach

A kindergartner scurried across the sand at Pismo Beach on Friday, scooping palm-sized clams into a bucket to carry back to the ocean. Meanwhile, a seagull swooped out of the fog to pluck a clam from the shore, trotting a few paces before tearing it open for lunch. “It’s bizarre,” said Santa Maria resident Debbie Jackson, who spotted hundreds of clams on the sand in Pismo Beach. “It seems like every step you go, you’ll find them.”

Usually, Pismo clams burrow a few inches beneath the wet sand, using their siphons like snorkels to eat and breathe, according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist Claudia Makeyev. In recent months, however, Pismo clams have been showing up on top of the sand at San Luis Obispo County beaches.

California State Parks, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and Cal Poly’s Center for Coastal Marine Sciences are working together to study the shellfish. “It’s exciting that (the clams are) coming back,” said Ben Ruttenberg, director of the Center for Coastal Marine Sciences. “We’re going to try to get some handle on what’s going on because there is such a strong, emotional attachment to these critters in the area.”

Pismo clams are embedded in Pismo Beach’s history and culture. Pismo Beach was known as the Clam Capital of the World in 1947, according to the city’s website. During the late 1800s, clammers could harvest as many clams as they could haul away, The Tribune reported previously.

Before commercial shipping of clams was banned in 1927, more than 370,000 pounds of clams were annually harvested from beaches stretching from Oceano to Monterey. In 1911, the first clamming restrictions were passed — limiting the daily take to 200 clams per person. In 1927, folks were limited to 15 clams per person daily, and the clams had to be larger than 5 inches.

Read more at: https://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/environment/article279072794.html#storylink=cpy

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