Searching For Cockles



We're in central puget sound in a body of water that we call Port Orchard Passage. This is a very good body of water for Shellfish. Because there's a lot of current coming through this little bottle neck area. There brings a lot of nutrients food. Oxygen Vivian. Barry is the shellfish program manager for the tribe and we met her and her colleague. Jeff more on a tribally owned beach across the sound from Seattle to areas famous for all sorts of seafood especially shellfish oysters and gooey ducks and course clams that we have different types of clams here. We have the the native little neck clams and we have an introduced Manila clam. That's very similar to the little neck. But it's from Asia originally and of course there's The star of today's show cockles which we actually couldn't see so they like to live in the lower intertidal zone and then the subtitle. Apparently there are more cockles. Living under the water than on the beach for those of you who are not up on their whole tidal geography. The Inter title is that part you see at the beach. The wet sand that gets exposed as the tide is going out. The subtitle is under shallow water almost all the time. It's that sliver of sand that only gives exposed at super low tides. Like when there's a full moon and so to get to the cockles in that subtitle's zone Vivian. And Jeff have to wait until the tide is at. It's very very lowest point this time of year. That's around three. A M which is go at night we harvest at night. Yeah we were out there during the day but fortunately there were some cockle shells available on the beach as visually. They see a cockle there. Jeff grab it. Yeah they're weathered but there you can see they look like those ripple chips. They're they're ribbed. They have these long ribs. Come down longitude only. This is what you would see when you're looking in the garden. Cockle shells right from the nursery room round more. Like a ball shape. The Long Ribs Jeff is describing on the shell. It's those same lines in the cockleshell flowers that give the flowers their name. If you've never seen a cockleshell and frankly I hadn't as Jeff said you might know them better from nursery RHYMES MARY. Mary quite contrary. How does your garden grow with silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row? No one knows exactly what that means. There's a theory that Mary as Mary. Queen of Scots and the cockle shells are somehow Catholic. But yeah no one knows. And then there's another old English rhyme. I knew as a Kid. It was actually a jump rope song for me. Blue Bells cockle shells a vans British rhyme. So they would have been talking about the different species at cockle. The common cockle as it's called which you find in the UK and Ireland Portugal and all down the Atlantic coast. Morocco cockles have long been a popular food in all these countries. Just one of the many shellfish people enjoyed you might have heard the Irish Song Molly Malone where she selling cockles in the streets of Dublin. We streets gone in the UK. Coco's used to be a pretty common seaside treat. You'd often buy them boiled served in a paper cone and sprinkled with Malt Vinegar. They were popular in the east end of London. And especially in Wales but today those kinds of traditional shellfish like welk's and winkles and cockles. They've become less and less popular. But while cockles are no longer common snacks in seaside towns. They are still actually harvested all along the coast of the UK. They're shipped overnight to elsewhere in Europe like France and the Netherlands where cockles are still popular law of blazes in the UK. That harvesting is still done by hand using cocoa rake. It can be really dangerous work if you get caught by the tide but while we were researching this episode we discovered off the coast of Norfolk. They've developed an ingenious technique that involves driving boats around in circles. This is from a channel four documentary about calls three to four minutes. Yes that's the war talk. The boat's propeller push the sentiment in these re off. Would you use the boat? Wash all the sideway basically There's yet another species of cockle that's widespread in Asia. In Japan. There's a popular cockles Sushi. That's available only one month a year but in a lot of places. Kaka leading has really fallen off. The shelves are hard to open. And especially these European cockles. There's only a tiny bit of meat. Once you do manage to pry them apart but west coast cockles like we said there are different species and they are most decidedly not dainty little things. They're actually quite hefty. They probably can get about a good four inches four five inches. They can get fairly large and heavy in terms of like maybe a schoolboy size little apple so cockles are bigger than clams but there are unusual in another way to most shellfish like the little neck clams in the Manila clams covered the beach. We were on their pretty stationary and when they settle from larvae to an adult they basically dig themselves in and stay in the same place for the rest of their lives but cockles. They are not quite so sedentary. These cockles have a really heavy and strong foot and they're very mobile so they can escape. They're predators by just jumping away from them this jump. It's not just a little hub. This is a full-on leap leap leap away. So one of the Faster Sea Stars is the Sun Star Picnic. Odia helium authorities. These sunflower seeds. Stars are freaky looking. They range in color from bright orange to purple. They get to more than three feet wide. And they have up to twenty four arms covered in suckers and they love to use those suckers to pull apart the two halves of cockleshell and then they chomped down on the flash. They can sense when the sea star is trying to get a hold of him in a foot to just kick away and they can jump off. We're talking we're talking mostly sideways. And then the kind of kick away and SORTA roll along to get away so at a time but enough to get away from a sea star and as long as there have been people living along puget sound. They've been eating those leaping cockles over ten thousand years. I don't know I mean bivalves have been around for you. Know millions of years in the ocean and the tribes have been around these waters. For at least I think the archaeological record say at least fourteen thousand years by all accounts cockles are one hundred percent delicious and a favorite food of the first nations people in the area so they will build a large fire with rocks so the rocks become very hot and they will put the shellfish right the rocks and cover them with seaweed so they basically steam in their own juices. It's over an open flame and it's yeah the the way they've been doing it for forever so it's they've perfected the art they're good. They're really sweet. Really sweet and kind of a rich kind of seafood taste little chewier a little bit meaty so they compared to other clans. I would say there's more richness in the

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