Wild Fact #98 – Oldest Living Animals? – Geoduck

Geoduck

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Cool Things About the Geoduck

  • If you do a Google search for the Geoduck, you will find all kinds of websites providing tasty recipes, since this odd creature is a very large member of the saltwater clam family and apparently a main ingredient in a number of unique dishes
  • The bizarre common name is actually taken form a Native American word meaning “Dig Deep”
  • Besides being one of the largest clams found in the world, the Geoduck is also one of the oldest living animals, with the oldest specimen being around 168 years old. Now that is old!

How Large is the Geoduck?

One look at the Geoduck and you will be scratching your head trying to figure out what they are. As mentioned, they are one of the larger members of the saltwater clam family, with a body length around 20 cm (7.9 in) or greater. Now this may not sound record breaking but I forgot to mention that these sneaky underwater treats also have a very long siphon (similar to your neck…well maybe not that similar but you get the idea) that can grow over 1 metre (3.3 feet) in length bringing the total length of our large clam to about 1.20 metres or 4 feet.

No wonder people are using this clam for recipes. Once specimen can probably make a ton of different dishes.

How to dig for Geoduck Clams

Photo by J. Patrick Fischer (Wikipedia)

What is the Purpose of the Geoduck Siphon

Now you may be wondering what in the world this clam would need a 3 foot siphon for. And the answer is quite simple…to eat. You see the Geoduck uses their long siphon to suck up a bunch of water and all the tasty zooplankton that comes with ocean water. Inside their siphon they will filter out the food and expel the water through a second hole. But why does their siphon have to be so long? Well because in the world of the Geoduck, an animal that will burrow up to 3 feet in the ocean floor, size matters. When you are buried so deeply, you need to have a long, long tube that can reach into the water and deliver all of those tasty nutrients.

The Deep Digging Clam

Wait a minute! The Geoduck is able to dig a burrow that is over 3 feet deep?!? They sure can and they do it by digging one foot per year. Now do you see why their common name comes from a Native American word meaning “Dig Deep”? Oh and one more thing, they need to make sure their burrow is comfortable since they will be spending about 100 years in the same spot…well, until someone picks them up and puts them on your plate.

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