Clamming and Its Socioeconomic Impact

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In New Hampshire it’s known as Qua-hogging, some even call it the devil’s work. However my fellow Baymen and I in Oyster Bay, NY call it clamming. There are many different kinds of clams that one may “clam”, I would like to focus on the hard shell clam “Mercenaria mercenaria.” The socioeconomic affect from clamming has effects on both the Baymen, their communities, as well as the Quahogs. Clamming has shaped entire communities in the New England area, creating a certain type of people, as well as ensuring the success of the quahog in the New England area. A particular place of focus for the commercial clamming industry is a small sleepy town called Oyster Bay, in NY.

In Oyster Bay, New York alone the clam’s effect can be noticed just by driving through the town. Dirty smelly clam boats line drive ways, the large loading ramps at the town dock is in constant use, shops selling clamming gear litter the town, and the local public high school’s mascot is a man in a boat called a “Bayman.” For good reasons this town loves the quahog. Commercial clamming has enabled anyone with a house in the town of Oyster Bay, a recent LIPA bill, proof of residency, as well as around $2000 for startup cost to start their own clamming business (Office of Town Clerk).

However the action and knowledge of how to clam and all the information you need to know is a guarded secret that can truly only be learned by attempting it. And can only be mastered by years of practice. Most clammers will not tell you what you need or how to do it unless you work for them as a “Cull-boy” and find out for yourself what exactly and how they do it. One first needs all of the proper equipment such as Bull-rake, and many different sections each 10ft long to adjus...

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