Many readers may know that we are big into foraging for food. It tastes better when you get it yourself!
Our favourite to collect is shellfish, especially crabs and clams, and Tofino is reportedly a fantastic place to forage for not only those, but mushrooms, and a host of other edibles as well! Needless to say, we’re quite excited to start foraging once it gets nicer out.
Yesterday afternoon was one such day where the weather was fantastic, so we checked where the best places to forage for clams were. It appears that the Tofino Mudflats are the place to be.
Next was to check for any closures, most specifically due to Red Tide, the quick rundown of Red Tide is that it can kill you if you eat bivalves (clams, oysters, etc) from an area that is affected by Red Tide.
The thing that has always bothered me about the DHO (Fisheries and Oceans) website is that it displays the areas and sub-areas in text, but if you are unfamiliar with that type of information, it’s very difficult to determine if you’re reading the right information. I have always wanted to see something like a Google Maps, with all that information.
Being that we are brand new to Tofino, I only knew that we were in Area 24, and I didn’t know what any of the sub-areas were. This could be dangerous, especially if you also don’t know the Islands and Inlets that are described.
Enter the BC CDC and their Shellfish Map!! They have a Google Map report!!! Exactly as I had dreamed of!!
So, now I have a visual representation of where the sub-areas are, and I’m in Area 24-9, which surrounds most of Tofino. The great thing about this map is that you can also click on areas and be directed to the DHO website where you can get more information.
The light red is all closed, and dark red outline is an “unknown” status, which is where you need to go to the DHO website, all you need to do is click on the area, and you’ll be taken to the specific area for it.
Pretty much the entire ocean appears to be closed, and I suspect it has a lot to do with the Fukushima disaster over in Japan (from which, low level traces of radiation landed in BC exactly two years ago today), but the inlets are safe. So, we are good to go! The area we want to go to is open to all bivalves.
The next thing to check was the Tides. You can’t harvest clams with the tide in, so we check a Tide app we have. We use “Tides Near Me“, it’s free in the Apple Store, and I’m sure it’s there for Android as well. It works everywhere as far as I know, so if you’re near the ocean, check it out!
Our last step was to make sure we had our salt water fishing licenses. Those took a bit to locate, but after some frantic searching, we found them in the “safe spot” I put them in… Don’t ever risk not having a salt water license if foraging. I hear the fines are huge, and a yearly license in BC is like, $26 CDN. Which, interestingly enough, is typically the cost of a crab dinner, so catch one crab, and you’ve already paid for your license. While we were allowed four crabs per day in Nanaimo, we are allowed six per day here!
That’s per license, and the kids get free licenses due to their age, and have the same limits, so we could, on a really good day, legally come home with 24 crab! As for clams, it depends on the species, but we usually go for Manila Clams, which we can have 75 each, or 300 per day if all four of us go out together.
Now, that is all way too much food for us, and we wouldn’t actually get that amount. I think the most we have ever done was 10 crabs, and about 100 or so clams to feed six adults and two kids.
So, off we went for a walk, which only took about a half hour, and we were at the mudflats! On the way there, we walked through a forested area that was simply beautiful.
The mudflat’s are very pretty at low tide, however, we did not succeed in collecting clams. We found one. We did however find hundreds of shells from the birds eating them. All those holes you see, those are supposed to be where you can find clams. Unless the clams are buried a foot down, there were none to be found really. (However, as I am typing this post, I discover those holes are more likely from ghost shrimp)
This whole area is under water at high tide. It’s actually really impressive!
Even though we came away empty handed, the day was not a waste. The kids had fun turning over rocks and looking at the shore crabs scramble for cover, and ruing around. We found a couple that were several times larger than we’re accustomed to finding. For example, we’re used to seeing shore crabs that are the size of the shell of the one below, legs and all. The kids LOVE finding these things! We can spend hours searching for different forms of life on the beaches, and we teach the kids to always be careful, and safely release anything we are not keeping. Especially if there is a collection bucket involved.
Of course, no trip to a mudflat would be complete without someone nearly losing a shoe!
After leaving the mudflats, we walked to the other side and out onto the beach. A 30 minute walk gave us two completely different coastal beaches. One full of rocks and mud, and the other pristine sand.
This is truly a treasured life.