HARSTINE ISLAND, Wash. — Raising the world's largest burrowing clam isn't for the impatient farmer.

Growing the odd-looking mollusk from seed to market takes five to seven years and plenty of gear.

For Taylor Shellfish Farms in Washington state, the country's largest farmed shellfish producer, it begins at its hatchery where wild geoducks (pronounced gooey ducks) are coaxed into spawning eggs and sperm in a water tank.

Once fertilized, microscopic larvae are fed algae, which the company grows itself on site. Then it's off to a floating seed nursery where thousands of tiny clams are placed in cages and lowered below the water's surface to grow for another year or so until it's time to be planted in the mudflats.

Then the clams are planted by hand several inches deep and protected for the first year or two by a 6-inch-diameter PVC tube or mesh pipe inserted into the mud with several inches exposed.

AP photographer Ted S. Warren took a close-up look at the often-muddy process of farming geoducks in the Pacific Northwest.


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