Gathering

Gathering shellfish in a shallow bay area. Center, Rangia cuneata clams, after opening. Coin is shown for scale. Photo by Steve Black. At right, Rangia specimen recovered from a coastal archeological site.

Gathering shellfish in the shallow water near the camp was a fairly simple task for coastal peoples. Bivalves such as Rangia cuneata tend to concentrate in mud and sand bottoms of coastal bays and estuaries, particularly in brackish waters near the mouths of rivers and streams where there is an influx of freshwater into saline. Those gathering these small creatures had only to wade into water roughly two to three feet deep, then reach a few inches into the mud to bring up a clam or two. In addition to providing reliable food, shellfish such as Rangia, sunray clams, scallops, and oysters were used to make a variety of tools and ornaments.