Is there such a thing as a soft-shell clam?

I’ve heard of soft-shell crabs, and I’ve even eaten a few. A few weeks ago, Meps and I were walking on the beach at Moclips, Washington, and we saw some strange critters washed up in large numbers. “What do you suppose those are?” we asked each other. “Soft-shell clams?”

Picture of "Soft-shelled clams"

OK, I’m not at all convinced that they are soft-shell clams, or even that such things exist, but I love the idea. And they do look quite a bit like clams, with a similar shape and clam-like growth rings. On the other hand, they seem to be tri-valve clams since they have a flat bottom and either a flat top with a sail, or perhaps the vertical part is a third section.

I suspect that the blue ones were more freshly deposited on the beach. Others have a translucent or iridescent color and look more like empty shells; maybe they’ve been up on the beach longer, with a chance to dry out.

If you have any idea what these critters really are, give us a hint. If you don’t know what they are, don’t worry–we’ll enjoy your interesting guess more than the correct answer!