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Resource Guide - The Razor’s Edge: The Washington Razor Clam Phenomenon

Thank you for your interest in this Saturday Speaker Series presentation! We hope you enjoyed this discussion with David Berger, and will consider joining us for future events.

View below for a recording of the presentation and additional resources.


What brings thousands of men, women, and children to Washington’s sandy coastal beaches every year, braving weather and surf? The buried treasure known as the Pacific razor clam.

Hunting and gathering these creatures has preoccupied Northwesterners from the time of the Native peoples to the present moment. Challenging to dig, delicious to eat, and providing a sometimes-heady experience of abundance, razor clams are entwined with the state’s commerce, identity, and history. Author and clam digger David Berger explores the twists and turns of a quintessential Northwest activity from its pre-settlement days to the present.

Speaker bio:

David Berger has worked as a visual arts critic for The Seattle Times, executive director of a botanical garden, and as a communication officer for Dunhuang, a World Heritage Site on the Silk Road in China. He is also a Metcalf Fellow for Marine and Environmental Reporting. Berger started razor clamming when he moved to Washington after graduating from college. Answering the many questions generated about razor clam lore, history, and biology led to writing the book, Razor Clams: Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest, published in fall 2017.

David was on the Humanities Washington Speaker’s Bureau roster a few years ago, and he has offered his talk about “Razor Clams” all across Washington state. In today’s program, David brings us an updated version of this history of Razor Clams—a source of food, commerce, and tribal identity—and a lesson in shellfish treaty rights. This historic bivalve has become such a passion-project, that the author is working with a group to make the razor clam the state clam:



To learn more about the author:


To learn more about tribal shellfish rights:


For more information about clamming from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

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