Razor clam diggers will soon have a month-long stretch to dig clams at Long Beach on the southern coast.

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Razor clam diggers will soon have a month-long stretch to dig clams at Long Beach on the southern coast.

“We are still well short of the recreational harvest goal for razor clams, and some of that had to do with the late start of the season (earlier this month),” said Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife shellfish manager.

Digging will be open daily at Long Beach during evening low tides only from Thursday (Feb. 4) through March 10.

Some of the digs occur during less than ideal low tides so those heading out should look at a tide chart since better digging usually happens when it is one foot or less.

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At Long Beach, 29,093 digger trips – on Jan. 7-14 and Jan. 21-27 – have taken 398,307 razor clams for a 14.2 clam per person average (the first 15 clams dug is a daily limit regardless of size or condition).

A spike in a marine toxin levels lead to an early closure last spring on all coastal beaches, and digging was closed this past autumn.

Savana Scheidt of Hoquiam is up to her elbow in sand retrieving one razor clam.
Savana Scheidt of Hoquiam is up to her elbow in sand retrieving one razor clam. She says she loves to dig them but doesn’t eat them.

State Fish and Wildlife alerted the public in early May after health test samples of coastal razor clams showed rising levels of domoic acid – a natural marine toxin produced by certain types of marine algae – that can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities.

Since 1991, when the toxin was first detected on the Pacific coast, outbreaks of domoic acid have prompted the cancellation of three entire razor clam seasons in Washington — the last one in 2002-03.

Clammers from across the region dig to catch razor clams at Grayland Beach on the Washington coast. Millions of clams will be harvested this year during razor clamming season. (Erika Schultz and Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)

Razor clam diggers have enjoyed back-to-back excellent seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15 that ranks up there as some of the best seen in more than three decades, and summer assessments show clam populations remain in good shape.

Elsewhere, Copalis Beach was the first beach to open this winter, but 40 percent of the quota has already been taken in just six days of digging.

Copalis – located from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes Ocean Shores, Oyhut and Ocean City – has seen 29,369 digger trips (Dec. 24-26, Jan. 8-9 and Jan. 22) with 398,535 razor clams taken for a 13.6 clam per person average.

Razor clam digging is still closed at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks until domoic acid levels drop below the threshold of 20 parts per million (ppm) set by state Department of Health.

“We had one clean test sample at Mocrocks a week-and-a-half ago, but a sample collected Tuesday (Jan. 26) showed it had increased back to 21 (ppm),” Ayres said. “Now we need two more clean samples so the soonest we can open it at least very least would be the middle of February.”

“At Twin Harbors we were down to 30 parts per million area, but now it bumped back up to 52 (ppm),” he said. “It might be out of the water for the foreseeable future, maybe not until spring or unfortunately possibly beyond that.”

Long Beach low tides – Thursday, Feb. 4, 0.8 feet at 3:41 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 5, 0.2 at 4:28 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 6, minus-0.3 at 5:11 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 7, -0.7 at 5:52 p.m.; Monday, Feb. 8, -1.0 at 6:32 p.m.; Tuesday, Feb. 9, -0.9 at 7:12 p.m.; and Wednesday, Feb. 10, -0.7 at 7:52 p.m.