Print This Page


The geoduck (pronounced /ˈguːiːdʌk/ gooey duck,
Panopea abrupta, is a species of very large edible saltwater clam, a marine bivalve mollusk in the family Hiatellidae.  Native to the northwest coast of the United States and Canada the geoduck is the largest burrowing clam in the world

Alternate spellings include gweduc, gweduck and goiduck. It is sometimes known as the king clam, or when translated literally from the Chinese characters the elephant trunk clam.

The shell of this clam is large, about 7 to 8 inches  but the extremely long siphons make the clam itself very much longer than this: the "neck" or siphons alone can be one yard in length.
weighing in at an average of one to three pounds  at maturity,  specimens weighing over 15 pounds and as much as (6 ft) in length have been reported.


Geoducks are one of the longest-living organisms in the Animal Kingdom. They have a life expectancy of about 146 years, with the oldest recorded at over 160 years. Scientists speculate that the geoduck's longevity is the result of low wear and tear. A geoduck sucks plankton down through its long siphon, filters them for food and ejects its refuse out through a separate hole in the siphon. Adult geoducks have few natural predators, which may also contribute to their longevity. In Alaska, sea otters and dogfish have proved capable of dislodging geoducks; starfish also attack and feed on the exposed geoduck siphon.

Geoducks are broadcast spawners. A female geoduck produces about 5 billion eggs in her century-long lifespan—in comparison, a human female produces about 500 viable ova during the course of her life.


The world's first geoduck fishery was created in 1970, but demand for the semi-forgotten clam was low due to its texture. Today, they sell in Asia for up to US$30/lb.  Its large, meaty siphon is prized for its savory flavor and crunchy texture. Geoduck is also regarded by some as an aphrodisiac. It is extremely popular in China, where it is considered a delicacy. Geoduck is mostly eaten cooked in a fondue-style Chinese hot pot or raw sashimi style, dipped in soy sauce and wasabi. In Korean cuisine, geoducks are eaten raw with spicy chili sauce, sautéed, or in soups and stews. On Japanese menus, geoduck is called mirugai or mirukuigai. It also has a texture similar to an Ark Shell (Akagai). (Although mirugai is sometimes translated to English as "Giant Clam", it is distinguished from "Himejako" sushi made from Tridacna gigas.)

The geoduck's high market value has created an $80 million U.S. industry, with harvesting occurring in both Washington state and the province of British Columbia.


  Search Library Topics      Search Newspaper Columns