The Seagulls And The Clams

Acer rubrum To Zyzyphus jujuba
Essays, Stories, Adventures, Dreams
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek


The Seagulls And The Clams


Our friend Thanh Mahoney related an amusing story to us about one of those “Truth is Stranger Than Fiction” events that might have seemed bizarre when it unfolded, but is probably more common than we might otherwise think.  Her story goes something like this:

The wooden dock on her property on Chincoteague Island, Virginia is only a short distance from a shallow sector of Chincoteague Bay where countless seagulls patrol the mudflats, looking for food at low tide.  Clams and crabs are among their favorite foods, but they cannot easily handle their finds without a little assist.

Many times in the summer, Thanh has noted that when a seagull finds a live clam in the mud at low tide, the bird will grasp it in its beak and rise to a high altitude over her wooden dock; then drop it on the deck to crack it open.  After the shell of the clam cracks open, the bird descends to the deck and proceeds to eat the meat of the live clam.  Many seagulls do this.

One day when Thanh Mahoney was standing near the dock and witnessed a seagull drop a clam from high altitude, she picked up the shattered shell and ate the clam, right then and there. The seagull was not amused. Soon, another seagull that had extracted another live clam from the mud again dropped it from high above, unto her dock.  Once again, Thanh retrieved the shattered clamshell and proceeded the eat it.  By then, there were numerous angry seagulls flying overhead, protesting loudly that Thanh was robbing them of their lunch. Nonetheless, Thanh told us, that on that day she enjoyed two fresh clams for her lunch.



 Thanh Mahoney points to the shallows where seagulls feasted at low tide

She was aware that the seagulls were not happy, so she did not persist in antagonizing them by snatching away their clams.  By the way, those seagulls also plucked crabs from the shallows and dropped them from high above unto the dock to stun them. Thanh Mahoney has witnessed those spectacles many times; thus it is no coincidence if an observer sees the remains of both clams and crabs on her wooden dock.      

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