Voices from the Tidelands

Voices from Underwater: Reflections from a Geoduck Dive Harvester

Heath Heller, an Olympia native, was introduced to geoduck farming along his circuit of seasonal work. He has worked various jobs, including diving to harvest geoduck.

Health Heller: geoduck dive harvester

“When I was younger, some friends that I’d met doing seasonal work out in Minnesota had harvested geoducks before. Seasonal work seems like an alternative because sometimes you don’t want to work for a while. And if you’re all right with your money you can live easily for a few months."

"There is a cohesion in the shellfish community. Pretty much everyone I’ve worked for has worked with everyone else. A lot of the stuff you have to go through - like if you’ve worked winters - it bonds people. Your whole crew are your friends. It’s long shifts and it’s cold sometimes, but you’re hanging out. Everyone who’s in the industry really seems to enjoy nature and is really into working on the water.”

“It still gets to me. I don’t like watching the water rise across the mask as I’m breathing.”

“Some of it is timing your inhales and exhales. You take a breath, speak, and hold the rest of your breath to listen to a reply; or breathe out real fast to listen."​

“When you’re diving you hear breathing and bubbles and for the most part you don’t really see anything. It’s just looking at a swirling cloud. A lot of time you’re lucky if you can see your hand in front of your face.”

“It still gets to me. I don’t like watching the water rise across the mask as I’m breathing.”

“When the silt clears out you can actually see what you’re doing. You get to watch all the interactions between all the different animals. But a lot of the time it’s just meditating with your eyes closed and feeling around at the bottom of the Sound.”