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.

Figure 1. Commonly removed from their home so that they can sit in a tank wondering what is going on?
Figure 2. Pacific geoduck siphon.
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. 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.