Pacific Northwest
Jamestown S'klallam elder Marlin Holden walks on a boardwalk made of pallets at Littleneck Beach along Sequim Bay. CREDIT: KUOW PHOTO/MEGAN FARMER

An ancient beach reborn — and renamed for a clam

“They are delicious when steamed open and dipped in hot butter,” according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. They’re also disappearing, according to scientists who've studied them from Alaska to California.

Littleneck clams are golf ball-sized bivalves that have sustained the Jamestown S’Klallam and other Northwest tribes for centuries.

The S’Klallam have returned the favor, in a way: by restoring and renaming a beach on Sequim Bay, near the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula, for the clams.

The area around what is now Littleneck Beach has Puget Sound’s densest known populations of this increasingly rare species.

“A lot of littlenecks out here,” Marlin Holden, 76, said as he dug up clams with a small rake. Holden, an elder of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe, raises oysters and digs Manila and littleneck clams on the beach now known as Littleneck Beach.

Kneeling on the wet ground to save his back, Holden raked the muck for clams. “I can dig about 80 pounds a night,” he said.

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