Clam Digging in Maine

Clamming as a way of life for these Maine men

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Two brothers display their life-long passion for digging clams

Clam digging is a common means of harvesting clams from below the surface of the tidal mud flats where they live. It is done both recreationally (for enjoyment or as a source of food) and commercially (as a source of income). Commercial digging is colloquially referred to as clamming, and is done by a clammer.

Clam digging in Maine is done using a "clam hoe" (a pitchfork with the handle cut off about 18" from the tines then bent about 70 degrees) and a "roller" (a half? bushel basket built using wood lathes or wire mesh) and hip waders (boots that extend up to the top of the legs).

In the Minas Basin area of Nova Scotia digging for soft-shelled clams is usually done with a clam hack, a spading fork with its short handle bent perpendicularly away from the fork's head. A digger typically uses the hack by grasping the spine of the prongs in one hand and the handle of the fork in the other to push the hack down into the mud, clay, or sand and then pull it up and towards him/herself. This digging action opens up the soil to expose the clams. Those clams legally long enough (44 mm in Nova Scotia) are then taken by hand and put into a peck-size (9 litre) bucket used for measuring the volume of clams collected.