Coquina Clams

Disclaimer: I am not a scientist.

Anecdotal evidence to support disclaimer: Last week, my younger son was explaining an experiment he wanted to conduct. After about five minutes, he stopped, looked at me and said, “Mom, you have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”

No sir, I did not. I suspect it had something do to with physics, but I wouldn’t bet more than ten cents on my suspicions. So when I write about nature along the coast, for instance, it’s not as an educated expert but rather as a beach dweller who observes her surrounding and who has an ear for the words and stories of others. That’s it.

Also, I know how to google. So here we go.

One day recently, our beach was bombarded with coquina clams. Their presence was not noteworthy, but their abundance that day was.

Coquina clams, for those head-scratching, are tiny clam shells (you know, the ones with two shells that join together on one end with some sort of a hinge) that burrow into the sand along the tide line. Waves will uproot them, but they are quick to wiggle their way back below the surface. They come in a range of colors, and are quite small, so small that if you are a horizon-watcher walking the beach, they would be easy to miss.  Reportedly, they move with the tides, and can travel up and down the coastline as well. People who do science say they can also be an indicator of the health of the beach.

Baby-Girl discovered the clams first, bringing me down to the ocean to see a tidal pool teeming with them.

With these things, of course,

she always has to investigate, hands-on style.

Off in his own world, my younger son came by a while later. “Hey Mom, look,” he said, lifting his shovel for me to examine. “They’re all over the beach right now.”

I nodded and told him about Baby-Girl’s earlier finding, and he led me to the shoreline, where small tidal pools, scattered along the water’s edge as far as I could see in either direction, were all thick with clams. After I’d expressed an appropriate level of respect for his find, he dumped the shovel of clams back into one of the pools. 

It’s interesting: Coquina clams appear so delicate, small compared to most shells, sea glass, and sharks’ teeth washed up with the tides. Yet, they’re also hardy creatures, those clams, living always in the midst of one wave or in the shadow of the next, best thriving where it is most turbulent.

Sounds kind of like some kids I know.

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