Save the Geoduck Campaign
June, 1987, Seattle, Washington

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster had far greater consequences than are commonly known. It contaminated the lichen eaten by Lapland reindeer and rendered their antlers unsuitable as an aphrodisiac for the insatiable Japanese market. Looking for an alternative, the Japanese turned to the geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck), a giant mollusk indigenous to the Puget Sound. The geoduck, which can live for up to 165 years and obtain a weight of up to 15 pounds, has a large appendage which protrudes from its shell through which it takes in nutrition and with which it moves through the water and sand. The Japanese turned to the geoduck as an aphrodisiac because of its extraordinary muscular elasticity.

So said Dr. Richard J. Long (a.k.a. Joey Skaggs), also known as Dr. Dick Long, marine biologist, oceanographer, and environmental activist. Long had concluded that the Japanese and other Asian cultures were exporting the geoduck at an enormous rate to satisfy the voracious demand for the geoduck as an aphrodisiac.

Dr. Long founded the "Save the Geoduck Committee" and called for the immediate halt of the commercial harvesting and exporting of what he considered to be an endangered species about to become extinct.

In reality, until 1969, the geoduck had been considered a negative tide sport clam. When the moon and the tides were right, clammers would don their rubbers and go out with buckets and shovels and dig furiously to unearth and capture the geoducks. The fishermen used the clams, which were considered a delicacy, for chowder and sushi.

In 1969, the State of Washington realized they had the potential for a multimillion dollar annual crop and began leasing the waterways to commercial geoduck harvesters.

Playing upon these facts, demonstrations were vigorously organized and Dr. Long mounted a media campaign gaining worldwide coverage. His quote "The Geoduck is threatened with extinction due to a voracious international appetite for aphrodisiacs" became the quote of the week in U.S. News and World Report.

The "Save the Geoduck Campaign" was a satire on what was going on in the minds of the media and the American public -- the Chernobyl aftermath, animal rights zealots, Greenpeace, Japan bashing, the U.S. trade imbalance, our huge national debt, and the need to point the finger and blame someone else for all our problems. At this moment in time, it was the Japanese who were being blamed for America's greed and bad economic and business judgment. The bait: a thinly veiled penis joke that was anti-Japanese. The suckers: UPI wire service, U.S. News and World Report, WNBC, Der Spiegel, The Fisherman's News and others.

As it turned out, the following year, the King County Prosecutor filed charges against the largest geoduck harvester in the state for over harvesting the clams to the tune of millions of dollars.

Hook

Press Releases and information sent to media:

Information Release Page 1 Page 2
What is a Geoduck?
Press Release Announcing Protest
Photo of Dr. Richard Long

Cautionary Articles:

Seattle Times, April 2, 1987
The Oregonian, April 2, 1987

Line

Der Spiegel, May 11, 1987
U.S. News & World Report, June 22, 1987
Fishermen's News, June, 1987

Sinker

Seattle Times, June 11, 1987 Page 1P 2
New York Post Page Six, June 11, 1987
New York Newsday, June 11, 1987
Seattle Times Editorial, June 12, 1987

Correspondence with Senator Mike Kreidler:

Skaggs to Sen. Kreidler, March 13, 1989
Seattle Times, January, 1989
Seattle Times, June 8, 1989
Sen. Kreidler to Skaggs, March 20, 1989

© 1997 Joey Skaggs