Jumping clams - All you ever wanted to know - Redneck Tale # 53

Impossible you say? "Clams can’t jump. They have no legs."

Well, I am here to tell you that clams can and do jump. They have been known to dig way down under the sand to hide from those pesky clam diggers and other enemy critters, and then, all of a sudden, they may pop up from below again, jumping for their lives.

 

Clam diggers on a wet beach
Clam diggers on a wet beach

Shellshock is normal

It is true. Clams do have a really pronounced adverse trait, the psychological disability known as shellshock. Usually this takes hold of the elderly clams after many years of escaping diverse tormentors – clam diggers, sea otters, sharp-jawed fishes, pointy-beaked seagulls, and the like. There is no cure, so we are told. Humans would likely not want to eat so many clams if it were widely known that many "ripe" clams are mentally ill.

A clam community
A clam community

Clams live tightly together in suburban bedroom communities

As has been well documented, clams congregate and live closely together in ethnically segregated groups. They seem to have governance of some sort, but do not appear to have leaders to boss them around and tax the bejabbers out of them. Even so, they are rather docile as individuals, never engaging in any sort of municipal disturbances or riots.

The squirt tube ready to go
The squirt tube ready to go

Little squirts

Each clam possesses very functional water tubes. You can watch those tubes in action any time you put yourself into a clam-monitoring mode when at beachside. One second, there is clear and smooth sand, typically so after a wave of water comes in, washes the sand smooth, and then retreats back to sea again. The next second, squish - and up pops a miniature geyser, and then another, and then lots more little geysers. Those little geysers come from clams that are squirting water from their water tubes. After a short while, the squirting stops until the next wave washes in.

 

You'd flap too if someone wanted to eat you
You'd flap too if someone wanted to eat you
Clam gripe - "Those clam diggers even sneak up on us at night!" The digger shown here is Chowderhead the Elder
Clam gripe - "Those clam diggers even sneak up on us at night!" The digger shown here is Chowderhead the Elder

Clam flapping began soon after clam digging began

Although clams are usually very quiet and sedentary of habit, once in a while they get it on and engage in clam racing. This clam racing is not commonly observed by humans. Clam racing is a dead-of-night affair when it does occur, and that is not all too often. But when it does occur, the clams come up from below into shallow waters at high tide. They open up their hard shells and flap the shells this way and that, causing the clams to leap about, one clam over another clam. Once their jumps take them up into the water, they propel about using those water tubes – kind of like tiny jet propelled wheel-less tanks. The only recorded clam race in human history, just to emphasize how rare those races really are, was from back in 1857. The observation then was by a clam digger known to his village by the name of "Chowderhead the Elder."

Clam race spectator area by the beach
Clam race spectator area by the beach | Source
This clam is exhausted and out of breath - almost apoplectic
This clam is exhausted and out of breath - almost apoplectic
What happens when a clam jumps too hard and too high
What happens when a clam jumps too hard and too high

Racing and jumping cause exhaustion, dangers, and spectator delight

Clams do not live only under flat and sandy beaches. Some have emigrated from those places to very scarce and narrow sands that might be described as molluskine waterfront lots, rather exclusive neighborhoods. The clams that reside there are typically more vigorous than those left behind at the flat sand beaches. When they have their clam races, they truly "get with it." The jumping and water squirting for the narrow-sand clams can be very energetic.

Because of the type of neighborhood in which these hyper-clams live, there are often trees that hang around the water’s edge. Those trees can pose a real danger to jumping clams. Some of the better jumpers have been known to slam into tree trunks to the extent that their shells cut into the bark of the trees, and then those clams are stuck right in the tree trunks. Then the days of sunshine follow, drying out the clams that stick out from the wood. Some humans may come along and mistake the desiccated clams for fungus growths. The doggoned dead and dried up clams cause these less observant and less learned humans to mistake them for common clamshell fungus.

Clam roasts are really not that good FOR clams
Clam roasts are really not that good FOR clams

Tough clams versus tender clams

Now you know some things about jumping clams and other sorts of clams, the ones that keep their exercises to a reasonable minimum. The next time you dine on roasted clams or even clam stew, you will be able to tell if you are munching on a jumping clam or one of the sedentary types. Jumping clams after cooking are a lot tougher than are those that keep a cool tool in the clam pool.

 

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Comments 15 comments

Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 6 years ago from West Virginia

Interesting information and a bit humorous. Voted up and useful and funny.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA Author

LG - I wrote the thing on a dare. It was mostly a pack of lies. The hard part was getting pictures to go with it.

Gus :-)))


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

Another lovely hub - you are a veritable fountain, er, squirt, of clam-info. Thanks for a highly enjoyable read, Gus! I laughed, I shared, I rated ;)


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA Author

Good Friend RedElf - I've been looking for you. It was a fun deal to write, and I am most pleased that it made you laugh. Mission accomplished!

Gus :-)))


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

That poor tree... It must have jumped in front of the charging clam flapping its shell and threatening the fellow trees.

Here in Pismo Beach, we hide behind rocks when the clams charge the beach. When we fish, we always hide behind the same rock so we can bait our hooks without the fish jumping out of the water and hooking themselves onto our hooks. A man has got to fish by casting the line into the water... There is rumors some of the local clams are starting to jump onto fishing hooks. It is not good.We are going to have a law passed, prohibiting this behavior. The Democrats are for it... So it must be a good thing. There will be free medical for all injured fishermen...


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA Author

Dallas - You are close to as crazy as I am.

Gus ;-)


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Jumping clams indeed! So now all I have to do is take the stew pot to the beach and wait for them critters to jump in, hehehehe.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA Author

Lela (Austinstar) - Right-o. Nothing like getting the picture instantly!

Gus :-)))


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

So clams can jump? And clams can race?

I never dreamed that was the case.

Thank you for the clammy education.

By the way, are you off your medication?

Thanks for the fun, Gus. We who write on the edge must stick together - like the clam communities.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA Author

Good evening, Good Doctor bj - Ahh, that edge thing! Lela (Austinstar) sorta put me up to this one after she had attempted to digest that article about the cow's bad hair day. "What are you going to write about next?" she asked. I told her, "Probably about jumping clams." Little did I know.

It is happiness that you bring to me by telling me that it was "fun." that's kinda what I thought. About those meds - I am looking for suggestions.

Gus :-)))


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Hilarious - have collected oysters and mussels but never clams - I seem to remember I always had a beer or two - clammers are above that?


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA Author

B.A.D - Clammers are almost always above the clams unless the clams are actually jumping. They jump higher whenever clammers spill lots of beer. It is an amazing process. One time, I,too, collected mussels. As I aged, I lost most of the doggoned things.

I'm glad that you enjoyed this frivolous tale.

Gus :-)))


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

Thank you goodness for you, and for Chowderhead the Elder. Who knew? Great stuff!


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA Author

James - There are times when honest research triumphs.

Gus ;-)


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA Author

Howdy consumer - This may be an historical first - a blog beating out a writer in the interest and enthusiasm game. Thanks for this fun comment. I enjoyed reading it.

Gus :-)))

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