– Ben Martens

Pacific Gaper Clam

When we were walking along the beach at low tide, we were startled when streams of water started shooting up around us. Most were only about a foot high but some shot four feet up in the air. We couldn't see what was causing it, but after some research, I think I have figured it out.

The mystery animal is a Pacific gaper clam, also called a horse clam. They live 6-12 inches under the surface and have a long "neck" that sticks up to the surface as a siphon. When they are startled, they quickly retract the siphon which shoots water up into the air.

It was hard to get a photo since each shot happened so quickly. I took a bit of video which is embedded below. I don't know if you can pick out the streams of water. There's one at 0:03 seconds in the lower right quadrant, one at 0:08 on the right middle, and one at 0:14 on the left side.