Questions and Answers about geoducks..

SPECIAL NOTE: The Discovery Channel program Dirty Jobs has produced an episode which details geoduck farming, harvesting and cooking. Keep an eye peeled in your local TV listing for reruns...

Q: How do you pronounce 'geoduck'?

OK, so maybe people haven't been asking this, but they're almost certainly getting it all wrong, so you have to read this one anyway, and read it first.

The proper way to pronounce the word is "gooey-duck", not "gee-oh-duck". Unlike learning the proper way to pronounce words such as "Cthulhu" and "YHWH", this admittedly does not entail risk to your mortal soul. Nevertheless, if you one day happen to fall into a conversation with a group of geoduck aficionados, you don't want to instantly reveal yourself to be a clueless newbie outsider, now do you?

The word is also sometimes spelled 'goeduck', but only by people who don't know any better.

Q: What is a geoduck?
A: A geoduck is not a duck in any way, shape, or form. It is a species of large saltwater clam (Panope generosa) which is native to the northern Pacific coasts of Canada and the United States of America, that is, along the coasts of Washington state and the province of British Columbia. They live buried deep in the sand of ocean beaches, and feed on smaller sea creatures, sometimes reaching the age of 100+ years. The first time most people see one, they are immediately struck by the creature's strong resemblance to an oversized(?) example of a certain portion of the male anatomy. (If you've ever seen David Lynch's movie version of the science fiction novel Dune, think 'sandworm with an ill-fitting shell'.) Despite this seeming drawback, geoducks are dug up, shipped off to China, cooked and eaten. If they can be caught; they are excellent diggers, and geoduck-hunting is not for the timid or squeamish. A visitor to this page passed along some advice in regards to proper equipment for a geoduck hunter, which I present here in a somewhat edited form:
A "Geoduck Can" is a very necessary piece of equipment when digging non-commercially. The can is constructed out of a 3 foot section of commercial heating/Air conditioning ductwork, (width of 18" or so) which is available at commercial HVAC equipment supply houses. It's a good idea to attach some 2" clear PVC flexible tubing to the can's rim with nuts, bolts & washers; this prevents injury during use due to the can's sharp edges. The completed can is pushed into the sand at a 'duck hole. Being as the 'duck is nearly 3' deep it is necessary to use the can to prevent the walls from caving in while digging. This helps to prevent damage to the clam as well as to the digger's arms.
Q: Where did the species get that weird name from?
A: The name seems to have originated from an Native American word meaning 'to dig deep'. It worked its way into English via a pidgin trading language called 'Chinook', which was developed and used between the area's Native Americans and the arriving European settlers. Why these two groups felt the need to discuss clams, I do not know.
Q: Are you a geoduck?

If only. Once it finds a suitable place to put down roots, a geoduck's life is a basically a good one, lying around in the sand and generally taking it easy. As noted above, they do run the risk of being caught and eaten, but then, who among us doesn't?

As far as I know, no real geoducks have yet made it on-line. This is a pity, since, despite their lack of a brain, they probably would be more coherent and rational than many of the individuals who currently post their 'thoughts' to the world.

Q: So why'd you pick that name, then? Huh? Huh?
A: I needed to come up with a catchy name for some on-line forum or other, and I picked 'geoduck.' The reason I selected that particular word is that I once attended a school which had proudly chosen the mighty geoduck as its mascot. As you may guess, it was (and happily still is) not your typical institution of higher learning. Sadly, the original school mascot costume had disappeared by the time I came along, and I only saw it in pictures, but at least I got to sing the fight song. (As you can see in the above link, they now have a new mascot costume, but it's wimpy. The old one could have scared children.) I personally did not make as good of use of my time there as I should have, but that was entirely my fault. It's an excellent school that regularly wins national awards, and is a place to look into if you're the right sort of person who wants to learn more about life than how to construct tax shelters or remove tonsils. Matt Groening, a fellow alum, may have learned something of use, and the fact that the Washington State Legislature periodically tries to turn the school into a prison or a military academy indicates the staff must be doing something right.

Q: I crave more geoduck information.

OK. Here are some links....

The people who beat me to the WWW copyright.
People who harvest geoducks for a living.
People who sell geoducks for a living.
The Wikipedia article, which is quite good.
Official Canadian geoduck facts
Official Washington State geoduck facts, fish and wildlife division
Official Washington State geoduck facts, ecology division.
A song of the geoduck, and more geoduck info
Hunting a geoduck. (Contains graphic pictures.)
Thoughts on playing host to a professional geoduck farm, and more hunting photos.
The webpage for a documentary about geoduck hunting.

Anything I've overlooked or misspelled? (I just love to misspell stuff...)
Let me know at geoduck42 AT

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All contents © 2006 Robert M. Cook
Last Updated February 17, 2006