How long do they live? The oldest recorded Pacific geoduck was 168 years old when it was pulled from the water [1]. Geoduck is pronounced “gooey duck.”

Where are they found? Along the west coast of North America in the soft bottom of the northeast Pacific Ocean [2].

What do they eat? Pacific geoducks are filter feeders and they use a siphon to bring in water, which carries with it fish larvae and plankton for nutrition [2].

What do they look like? Unlike other bivalves, the bodies of Pacific geoducks grow much larger than their shells. Some Pacific geoducks grow to be over 3 feet long, yet their shells are usually only 8 inches in length [2]. See figures 1, 2, and 3.

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Figure 1. Commonly removed from their home so that they can sit in a tank wondering what is going on?
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Figure 2. Pacific geoduck siphon.
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Figure 3. They look much better in the wild.

How do they reproduce?  Pacific geoducks in the wild reach sexual maturity around 2 years old [4]. They reproduce by spawning and long-lived females can produce up to 5 billion eggs during her lifetime. This may very well be another species that exhibits negligible senescence.

How do scientists know how old they are? Researchers can estimate the age of a geoduck based on the growth increments of the shell. Recently, bomb radiocarbon dating confirmed the long lifespans of these creatures [3].

So what are we lacking? It’s 11/10/2016 and this is the end of one of the strangest US elections ever. So tonight I will use bullet points.

  • We need more information concerning the reproductive cycle of this species, specifically if it ends.
  • Panopea generosa has not be assessed for conservation status.
  • The mitochondrial genome for Panopea generosa is available on the NCBI website, but no nuclear data has been added.

Conservation status: Unknown, which is a shame considering they can reach such astounding lifespans.

Please contact me if you’d like to contribute any information about this unique and long-lived species.

  1. Orensanz, J. M., et al. “Precaution in the harvest of Methuselah’s clams the difficulty of getting timely feedback from slow-paced dynamics.” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 61.8 (2004): 1355-1372.
  2. Oceana.org. Geoduck. http://oceana.org/marine-life/cephalopods-crustaceans-other-shellfish/geoduck   Accessed 11/10/2016
  3. Kastelle, Craig R., et al. “Bomb-produced radiocarbon validation of growth-increment crossdating allows marine paleoclimate reconstruction.” Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 311.1 (2011): 126-135.
  4. Vadopalas, Brent, Jonathan P. Davis, and Carolyn S. Friedman. “Maturation, spawning, and fecundity of the farmed Pacific geoduck Panopea generosa in Puget Sound, Washington.” Journal of Shellfish Research 34.1 (2015): 31-37.