Clamshells and Climate Change
What seal bones and clamshells teach us about past climate.
Written by Barbara Moran
Catherine West was having no luck. Knee-deep in the cold waters of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, West scanned the rocky seabed for butter clams. The clams had buried themselves in the sand, as clams are wont to do, so she was looking for the telltale siphon—a small tube they stick out, to suck up the nutrient- and oxygen-rich seawater.
“It looks like a black straw,” called her colleague, geologist Fred Andrus, digging on shore.
West stared doubtfully down at the water, a mosaic of sea stars and spiny urchins under the surface. “Everything looks like a black straw,” she said.