Geoduck – A Genuine Business Opportunity
Geoducks are relatively large clams found along the shorelines of the Pacific Northwest. Because of their size, the clams are often marketed as “elephant trunk” clams or “king clams”. The clams have unique siphons which may reach up to three (3) feet or more in length. In China and Japan, the Genuine Geoduck is served as a popular delicacy. They are expensive and can be hard to find in the market place.
Native Americans were the first to harvest Geoducks in North America by digging them up in the intertidal zone. It was a struggle to dig them out of the sand because they were so deep. This is why the “Lushootseed” Natives created the term for them which means “dig deep”. When the Europeans came to North America, they mispronounced the Native term making it sound like “gooey duck” and for many years the spelling was actually documented in European encyclopaedias as “Goeduck.” In the 30s the name was changed to Geoduck but the pronunciation remained the same. In the 1980s the fishermen in Canada wanted to change the name to something that sounded more palatable, because as they said, “Gooey Duck” sounds like a Mallard that was caught in an oil spill. The more formal individual prefers the Latin term Panopea generosa.
When the animal is processed, the shell and offal is removed leaving the siphon and breast meat. When cleaned, the siphon has a distinct phallic look, and the breast meat reminds one of a vulva. This is why the animal has developed a reputation as an aphrodisiac.
The siphon may be boiled, steamed, sautéed or fried depending on an individual’s personal taste. They may also be eaten raw. The siphons of the clam have a vaguely crunchy texture and are very savoury.
Because the genuine geoducks have thin brittle shells, which may be easily broken, they are classified as soft-shell clams. The clams spend their lives burrowed into the substrate ranging from the lowest level of the intertidal zone down to depths in excess of 300 feet.
Their long siphons cannot be fully retracted into their shell so their greatest protection from predation is to burrow down deep into the substrate where predators cannot get at them. Individuals hunting the clams with shovels in the intertidal zone usually require 2 or more people to dig out one clam as the pit can be 3 feet deep and 3 feet across before they are finally able to get at the animal. It is considered common courtesy for clam diggers to refill the holes after they have harvested the clams.
Geoducks may live up to 150 years. This makes them an ideal animal to aquaculture because there is no need to sell them on to the marketplace before they die, as is the case with aquacultured salmon. In effect, it is like creating a sustainable biological gold mine that never runs out. Many biologists believe that Geoducks are being over harvested in the wild fishery. These two factors, combined with an increasing world demand is creating a wonderful business opportunity to invest into Geoduck ranching.