Voices from the Tidelands
Voices from the Night: Reflections from the Winter Night Harvest
Luke Gumke moved from the North Cascades region to South Puget Sound in 2007. He currently manages Arcadia Point Seafood, a Shelton-based geoduck farm owned by Vicki and Steve Wilson.
Beach harvesting in Puget Sound is dictated by the tides. During the winter months, the tide is low at night so geoduck farmers head out in the dark, sometimes working the tidelands until morning. Out of respect for the homeowners who live along the shoreline, these crews navigate almost entirely by headlamp. Geoduck farm owner, Vicki Wilson, remembers watching the “dance” of the crew at night. “We had a crew working on one of the beaches next to the house. We came up in the Pacific, and we stopped out in the water and watched the beach. All you could see was the little headlamps and they looked like fireflies. It looked like a dance. It was amazing to watch.”
Luke Gumke: geoduck farm manager
“It was the first fall that I was here when I got the part-time job helping with the night harvest. It was stressful being out at night not really being able to see - just having a headlamp - and being responsible for caging up all the ducks, keeping the boat in the right amount of water, and trying to keep up with the harvesters."
“Hopefully I’ll be with the company for quite a while. It’s working out real nice. I’m pretty lucky to have bosses like Vicki and Steve. They’re really good people. Unlike other industries, there doesn’t seem to be as much competition between farmers in the shellfish community. It seems like they’re more willing to help each other out, team up, and face problems.”