Clams and Other Sea Creatures Found on the Shores of Pismo Beach

Knowledge is power and from the activity book, you learned how to identify a Pismo Clam, a mussel, and a sand dollar, and how to rebury a Pismo Clam and to return a living Sand Dollar back to the ocean. By being a good steward, you have the power to make a difference in the world!

Pismo Clam

How to identify a Pismo Clam:

How can we help the Pismo clams continue to survive on the shores of Pismo Beach?  What do we do when we encounter a pismo clam on the beach?  A good start is that we can start by identifying them and reburying them so that the clam continues to grow and thrive. Pismo clams are symmetrically shaped. The color of their shells varies, and often they have stripes radiating from the hinge where the two shells are attached.  Pismo clam colors range from cream with shades of  pink, orange,  purple and some with distinct brown stripes.

Step 1:

Dig a hole two inches deep in the same location that you found the clam. It’s important that you keep the clam in the same exact place where you found it.

Step 2:

Place the clam in the hole vertically with its hinge ligament (the bump where the two halves connect and it looks as though it has a small bubble) facing upwards and towards the ocean.

Step 3:

Lastly, cover the clam with sand.

Happy Clam

“Happy as a clam!” 

A phrase popularized in the early 19th century in New England, where clams were plentiful and a large part of the region's cuisine is “happy as a clam,” meaning that someone is incredibly happy and content. The complete phrase is “happy as a clam at high tide” because clams can only be dug up by humans when the tide is low, therefore, at high tide, they're almost impossible to find and harvest in deeper water, so we assume the clams are happier! 

Sand Dollars Are Living Creatures:

Also known as sea cakes or sea cookies, Sand Dollars are living creatures, not empty seashells. Sand Dollars are echinoderms, and their cousins include sea cucumbers, sea stars, and urchins. They are social creatures that gather together in groups up to 600 sand dollars and more. Sand Dollars are aged by scientists by counting growth rings on their exoskeleton plates. They are not known for living more than ten years. Sand dollars are bottom dwellers that feed on plankton. Sand dollars move on the bottom of the ocean floor by moving their spines and cilia (tiny hairs). Sand dollars chew their food with a five-part jaw that grinds their food much like teeth. Do not take living sand dollars from their environment if they are dark in color (brown, tan, gray, purple).  If you come across a sand dollar that's dark in color, put it back into the ocean where they can continue to live and thrive.

Sources: Ocean Conservancy, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Marine Sciences


Sand Dollar