What is a Geoduck Farm

Geoduck Farming

Geoducks are the large marine bivalves living along the northwest coast. They are huge in size with a neck that extends up to three feet or more. They also have a great life expectancy and average life span is about 140 to 150 years.

Geoduck Farm

For a long period, geoducks were being harvested from their natural colonies present in the salt waters near Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. However, nowadays geoducks are raised in farms. This aquatic farming of geoducks was made legal with an act that allowed not only their farming but also exchanging of their seeds among marine farms and licensed hatcheries. It has also been agreed upon by HB 43 to promote this farming industry in Alaska and therefore, provide finances and potential marketing for seeds. Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery is the only one supplying mariculture geoduck seeds in the State.

However, according to the unofficial policy of Department of Fish and Game, ut hinders the use of geoduck seeds in farms outside the region of Southeast Alaska. This impediment compels the State to give continuous financial aid to the only hatchery in the mariculture business.

The breeding of geoducks was first attempted by a biologist named C. Lynn Goodwin. In early 1970’s he tried to raise them in a five-gallon bucket  inside a laboratory, an act out of his desire to know more about geoduck breeding. Once he examined the early part of a geoduck’s life, he collected a number of these clams in cold water, fed them for several weeks while gradually increasing the water temperature to make the male geoduck lay the sperms. Due to the mediocre setting of the experiments, the growth of geoduck larvae was affected by bacterial contamination.

The experimentation was however not successful despite their earnest efforts. In ten years time, Goodwin succeeded in growing baby mollusks with the cooperation of his colleagues. Unfortunately, their efforts with growing geoducks did not bear the same result. They made almost a hundred experimental efforts to implant 18 million geoducks. They used old harvested colonies of geoducks to lay down the new ones; however, every time they inserted the geoducks in the ocean sand in deep and shallow waters, the clams did not survive.

The success came in 1990s, when the work of Goodwin was revived by other biologists, who made a few changes in the technique. They planted the calms enclosed in a protective plastic covering to keep them safe from their predators. This led to successful growth of new geoduck colonies. Now there are a number of clam farms run by Taylor Resources, a shellfish company that sells young geoducks.

Different tidelands were leased by the geoduck farmers to start new geoduck growth. They insert young clams into the sand, digging thousands of plastic pipes. These are further covered with net. In five years time, these clams are ready for harvesting, which is achieved during lower tides, by using pressure hoses to remove the sediment and dig up the clams. The annual production of these clam farms in Washington, reaches up to millions of pounds of geoduck.

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