Clam gardens – Northeast Pacific Stonehenge

MorganClam gardens

Seagoing with Morgan Black Photo 2

It is amazing to think that until two years ago, I had never heard of a clam garden. I have spent considerable time exploring the shorelines of coastal British Columbia and had never noticed these amazing inter-tidal structures. However, even if I had seen them I, like many others, likely would have not understood their significance.

The construction of a clam garden is a monumental undertaking, and there are a remarkable number of these structures found all along the northeast Pacific coastline. I have had the privilege of visiting several dozens of these modified beaches now, and each one impresses me. For an idea of what clam gardens are exactly, please visit my Research Page

To give you an idea of why I am so impressed, let me describe some of the formations I have seen. Sometimes they created a clam beach where only bedrock was before! A steeply sloping, solid rock shoreline was transformed into a sand and mud habitat. One of my favorite sites has a wall that stretches several hundred meters – that is a lot of rocks!

There is still so much to discover about clam gardens. How and when exactly they were built? How was this ancient form of mariculture technology developed? How was it shared?

Also, and what I am most interested in, is what can we learn from this method that help us today?

When I stepped onto a clam garden and began to comprehend the scale and complexity of engineering, my first thought was Stonehenge.