Gene Woodwick - Time for Jack Frost art, clamming, birding and a bite of barnacles

Some of us beachers are of the firm belief that if God had intended everyone to see the sunrise he would have made it come up at noon. But one thing that is worth getting up early for is heavy frost on ferns, salal, cedar boughs and prickly spruce needles. Snow should stay in the mountains where it belongs, but frost that sparkles like diamonds, zircons, and rhinestones is just fine because it has enough sense to go away before noon.

English slug wars

In that thought of frost and beachers’ penchant for oddball news from other countries — as long as it pertains to nature — comes a tidbit from Great Britain where they are not praying for just frost, but a deep freeze, and some gosh awful potion that will kill the next spring’s crop of “super slugs.”

The Mirror in London is warning about an invasion of Spanish slugs that have come to visit the Queen’s Isle. These slimy buggers thrive on slug pellets and are voracious predators, according to entomologist Ian Bedford of the John Innes Center in Norwich. Last spring a late frost knocked off a swarm of them but left enough to inter-breed with the native varieties of slugs to raise havoc in the rose bushes, and every other plant beloved by English gardeners. Egad! Just imagine an army of maniacal banana slugs on the North Beach. Perish the thought. …

Clams here, there

As usual, the clammers’ go-to-guy, Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish biologist, has good news for depressing winter wonderings. Clam digging season is here — snow, no snow, rain, hail or sleet. North Beach diggers have one more shot today, Dec. 3, and the Long Beach clammers can dig through tomorrow, Dec. 4. You can dig clams on Twin Harbors beaches every day through this Saturday, Dec. 7.

Evening low tides and open beaches are listed below:

• Dec. 3, Tue, 6:44 p.m.; -1.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks

• Dec. 4, Wed, 7:30 p.m.; -1.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach

• Dec. 5, Thu, 8:17 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Twin Harbors

• Dec. 6, Fri, 9:05 p.m.; -1.0 feet; Twin Harbors

• Dec. 7, Sat, 9:56 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Twin Harbors

If you plan to go south, please check which beach you are planning to dig to ensure it is open. Also, large red signs are placed on beach approach roads on beaches not open to state that fact.

Clam toxin tests

Before a beach can be opened for the harvest of razor clams, WDOH protocol requires that all razor clam samples collected from that beach must test under the action level (20 ppm for domoic acid and 80 µg/100g for PSP) on both of the two required sample collections.

A third marine toxin, okadaic acid, is produced by a surf zone dinoflagellate from the genus Dinophysis. These cells have been observed in coastal surf zone water samples by our harmful algae monitoring project. As a result, the Washington Department of Health has added screening for the presence of okadaic acid to the tests conducted on razor clam tissue sampled prior to any razor clam opener. The action level for okadaic acid is 16 µg/100g. High levels of Okadaic acid in shellfish tissue can produce Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning or DSP.

More details re: okadaic acid and DSP can be found at:

During the sampling by the biologists, only razor clam meat tissue is tested.

Gooseneck barnacles on the menu

The Northwest’s fancy-food chefs have discovered another shellfish that has long been favored by many local Indian families. Gooseneck barnacles are enjoyed for their sweet flavor. In Spain and Portugal they are known as “percebres” and are cooked in olive oil, garlic, shallots, parsley and lemon.

The taste is similar to a clam crossed with a lobster.

The British Columbia Natives are awaiting the government’s decision to reopen the commercial gooseneck barnacle fishery that was closed in 2005. With winter weather, it is a bit tricky gathering the goosenecks from intertidal rocks at dawn or dusk. But with the average price of $23 a pound or $16-$28 for a few ounces on a restaurant appetizer menu, it is a fishery worth thinking about.

Those who cannot stomach the appearance of a gooeyduck will react the same way to the appearance of the gooseneck barnacle. And… they will not give a fig that Charles Darwin was so impressed with the size of its penis that can grow up to eight times its body length that he spent eight years studying the creature and published a four-volume monograph on its biology. Beachers may be a bit gritty, but they are not without squeamishness.

Ocosta tsunami refuge

Across the Harbor the Ocosta School District has made international news with its plans to build the nation’s first tsunami refuge. The South Beach communities floated a $13.8 million bond to replace the old elementary school that includes a shelter for more than 1,000 people on the new rooftop.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources provides global news on behalf of the National Tsunami Mitigation Program funded through NOAA and gave a nice play to our neighbors across the Harbor.

For more information, see the background research by Project Safe Haven:

Birding news online

Grays Harbor Audubon Society announced that in order to keep you better updated, Dianna Moore has established a blog to alert you about what’s birdin’ on the Harbor. So, if the Daily World column by Moore is not enough, there is more to look forward to on the blog site. Be sure to check it out htpp://gha. The site also lists dates for the monthly bird trips with those who would like to enjoy outdoor life on a less strenuous level than digging clams.

And, if that doesn’t strike your fancy, check the thermometer, get up early and go out for a drive to enjoy Jack Frost’s artwork. Perhaps if we pay grateful attention to the frost, the snow will stay on the mountains!


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