Website Update

The Decline and Recovery of Pismo Clams

Pismo clams were once an abundant recreational fishery species throughout California and in Pismo Beach in particular, but their abundance has declined statewide over the last several decades. We seek to understand the current status of Pismo clams and the mechanisms that impact their abundance. This project involves field work from Monterey to Baja California, as well as lab and experimental work, and includes collaborators at Cal Poly, agencies and organizations in San Luis Obispo County and institutions throughout California.

Every month we survey locally for Pismo clams on Pismo Beach, CA. These surveys are helping us create a long-term data set about clams on Pismo Beach and allow us to collect monthly samples for reproduction studies! Our surveys are completed with the help from Cal Poly students and community members! 

We'd love to have your help! If you are interested in participating in an upcoming survey, please sign up for our email list here. We send emails once or twice per month to advertise for upcoming surveys! 


What happens during a survey?

We start near the top (inland) portion of the beach and run transects perpendicular to the ocean (essentially a long line). Sand is dug in 3-meter sections as far into the intertidal as possible. We run the sand through a custom sieve which allows us to document very small clams. We measure each clam and either collect them for lab analysis or rebury them! Fieldwork is physically demanding (shoveling, lifting/carrying buckets of water, etc) and at the whims of the tides! Fall/winter tides are comfortably in the afternoon, while spring/summer tides are very early in the morning.

How long does a survey take?

Surveys begin ~2 hours before low tide and last for 4-6 hours.

What should I bring?

Wear close-toed shoes, such as dive booties, boots, or old sneakers, and clothes that can get wet/sandy. For evening/early morning tides, I encourage you to bring a headlamp. Water and snacks! :) We provide all survey equipment.

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