What’s a show?
Clams usually show as the tide recedes but can show during the incoming tide. Shows display as various shapes on the surface the substrate in response to the vertical movement of the clams siphon in the substrate. The show reveals the presence of the clam under the substrate. Each species of clam has a slightly different show that can be recognized and identified by experienced clam diggers, however, the show of juvenile gaper clams is often confused with the show of butter clams or softshell clams. *ODFW Photo
Gaper Clam show*
Gaper clams produce the largest clam show. Often, their necks are visible within the show, as in this picture. odfw. However, the gaper clam show is usually round but can be oblong shaped. When the show of the gaper clam is oblong it can be confused with the show of geoduck clam. Coos Bay and Netarts Bay are the only 2 bays with geoduck clams, but geoduck clams are infrequently dug from those bays.
Butter Clam show*
Butter clam shows are usually described as long and narrow, as if a flat head screwdriver were stuck in the substrate.
Softshell Clam show*
Softshell clam shows tend to be approximately circular, but can sometimes be oblong. In most areas where they are dug, the only other common burrower is the ghost shrimp whose shows are easily deciphered from these.
Since cockle clams burrow so shallow in the substrate, evidence of both siphons is usually seen at the surface.
One way experienced clammers can tell for sure that they're looking at a clam show is by the presence of pseudofeces pellets. These pellets are the product of the clams filtration system, the sand and silt ingested in the process of filter feeding.
Ghost shrimp shows*
Ghost shrimp burrows will commonly dominate an area. They tend to loosen the soil too much for clams to live in the same direct areas. At the higher elevations, these are the most usual shows.
Littleneck and Manila Clam Shows
A ¼ inch keyhole shaped show often discloses the presence of the a Littleneck or Manila clam 1 to 6 inches under the substrate. The show may also appear as an irregular shape in a shallow depression but the show is often confused with shows of other clams. The show in the photo was located in a shallow depression.
Razor Clam Shows
Razor clam shows are a perfectly symmetrical hole that usually appears for a brief moment in the wet sand as the clam retracts its neck. The show opens and is filled with water and sand before being washed away by the tidal surge. The show may also appear as a shallow depression, a dimple, a hole or as a donut with raised edges. The show may also appear as a small area of shimmering sand in wet or dry sand. The show of immature razor clams is relatively small about ¼ of an inch in diameter.
Purple Varnish Clam Shows
Multiple 1/16 to 1/4 inch round shaped shows discloses the presence of Purple Varnish clams located 6 to 12 inches under the sandy, sand/ mud or muddy substrate. The shows in the photo below are typical of Purple Varnish shows.