Published April 15, 2006
New life and new things in the mud
A muddy, shelly tidal flat is just crammed full of life -- and a good place to spend a couple of hours poking around and learning new things.I was out at Potlatch State Park on Hood Canal Friday afternoon for a clam seeding story -- Skokomish tribe members, volunteers and state Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists were there to scatter 1 million tiny Manila clams.But I bumped into people who love those shellfish beaches, and they showed me many cool things.Brady Blake, a Fish and Wildlife shellfish biologist, showed me that this beach has lots of silver-dollar-sized Olympia oysters. Blake also showed me how to tell the difference between the native Olympia oyster and the bigger Pacific oyster.Olympia oysters are smaller, rounder, have a more metallic shade and have much less fluting on their shells.Tim LeClair, a Skokomish tribe member, told me how that beach is important for tribal -- and non-tribal -- shellfish gatherers.LeClair said its time for the tribes and outdoor people to forget past legal battles and work together to clean up Hood Canal. LeClair is right. Jean Moore, a retired teacher and beachfront property owner on the Canal for more than 50 years, showed me moon snail shells and a deep love of beaches.I love low tide, she said. The beach is full of life.