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Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and the Hunt for Nature's Bounty

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  91 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Shell Games is a cops-and-robbers tale set in a double-crossing world where smugglers fight turf wars over some of the world's strangest marine creatures.

Puget Sound sits south of the border between the U.S. and Canada and is home to the magnificent geoduck (pronounced "gooey duck"), the world's largest burrowing clam. Comically proportioned but increasingly fashionable a
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by William Morrow & Company (first published 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 232)
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I picked up this book at the encouragement of a friend and out of mild intrigue over the subject matter. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and as kids my parents took us clamming and crabbing when we vacationed along Hood Canal and the Olympic Peninsula. We dug little steamer clams in Hood Canal, razor clams along the Pacific beach, and Dungeness crab in the Straight of Juan de Fuca. Like other types of fishing and hunting, digging clams requires a license. Wildlife agents are sometimes out and ...more
AdultNonFiction Teton County Library
TCL Call#: 364.16 WELCH C
Rebecca - 5 stars
I found this true-crime adventure about smuggling bizarre-looking bivalves (clams) riveting. It's unbelievable the techniques poachers use to traffic wildlife and the lengths cops go to in order to catch them. The author wraps a meaty lesson about ecology inside a caper that kept me turning the pages.
Years after hearing Welch speak about Shell Games on NPR, I finally picked it up. The author chronicles the anti-poaching teams of Washington State (and sometimes the Feds) as they work diligently to track down many of the worst and most notorious clam poachers of Puget Sound. I enjoyed the chase scenes, learning about the benefits/problems of utilizing informants, and finding out which type of evidence was most likely to put the thieves behind bars. It was fascinating to learn just what strateg ...more
Kate Savage
This book exposes the seedy underbelly of the multi-million dollar shellfish poaching industry in the Pacific Northwest.

Think of all the things on the black market that bring in millions-drugs, guns, medicine, jewelry...geoducks. No kidding. Geoducks from the Pacific Northwest are being stolen and shipped to Asia at an alarming rate. And the poachers make millions. Welch explores a particular case in the mid-late 90s that broke open the illegal geoduck trade. Along the way we meet dedicated fish
Galen Johnson
This was a fairly well-written story about an extensive investigation by state and federal wildlife officers into shellfish poaching in Puget Sound. There were definitely twists and turns in the investigation worthy of your typical cops'n'robbers tv show or spy story; I'll leave out too much of a plot summary as it would be a spoiler. The book seemed meticulously researched; as a fisheries scientist I found no errors in the science. My main quibble about the book would be that various asides, wh ...more
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DeLene Beeland
Shell Games, by Craig Welch, is hands-down one of the most interesting wildlife stories I’ve read in decades. (Admittedly, the subtitle, Rogues, Smugglers, and the Hunt for Nature’s Bounty, snookered me from the outset.) Welch is an environmental writer at the Seattle Times, and the book grew from stories he first reported for his newspaper about wildlife trafficking in the Puget Sound. The more he looked into it, the more convoluted the tales became. The result is Shell Games, a story of the sh ...more
Excellent book that covers not only the tale of Law against Poachers, but also covers the natural sciences history of the Pacific Northwest. I had no idea so much of this was happening just off shore - or the labryinth of legalities surrounding aqua-hunting, and the history of how those laws came about. Another "can't put it down" read. My only quibble is with the many many flashbacks, flash forwards, interruptions of the story. The storylines could have been organized a bit better. It felt like ...more
Whitney Whiskey
Facinating, well-researched, true story about the theft and management of our natural resources.
Apr 09, 2012 Carolyn rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ecology buffs
Recommended to Carolyn by: White Salmon book discussion group
Interesting account of a few cops who did what they could to stop smuggling of geoducks (large, edible, obscene-looking [google for pictures], reportedly delicious, burrowing clams, pronounced gooey-duck) and crab from Puget Sound. They caught a couple of the kingpins, who made millions trading in these supposedly-strictly-controlled shellfish. The thieves did considerable ecological damage, though no one can be sure how much. The story made me want to taste a geoduck.
David Ward
Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and the Hunt For Nature's Bounty by Craig Welch (William Morrow 2010)(364.162) is an interesting tale of the illegal trade of the "geoduck" clam (pronounced "gooey-duck") from the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Wholesale poaching has greatly reduced the clam stock; this book attempts to explain why. My rating: 6.5/10, finished 2/29/12.
Read this for book club. Didn't think I would like it but it was actually fairly interesting. It takes place in the area around where I live, so I could picture where things were taking place easily. I didn't know that geoduck poaching was such a big business.
I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun read and covered a subject I had never given much thought. Prior to this I had heard of geoducks on Dirty Jobs and maybe a few othe nature shows. Who knew that there could be this much money in an industry like this.
Uwe Windhoven
One thing that bugs me about this well researched book is the many references to scuba diving with oxygen.
You breathe compressed air while diving at shallow depths, not oxygen.
geoduck trafficking...who knew? I live here, and hadn't the slightest clue. This is a fantastic look into some of the lesser known crimes of the pacific northwest. Fast, Fun read.
This book could be a movie. The 'Goodfellas' of the Pacific Northwest is all about clam poaching and smuggling. A fascinating look at the dirty underbelly of my own backyard.
This is a book about geoduck smugglers in Puget Sound.

It's The Orchid Thief, but written by a Seattle Times staff reporter.
Not a literary force but still intriguing. Love the local references. Most of the story is set around the south sound. Fun!
I really wanted to finish this, but I lost interest about a third of the way in.
Geoduck poachers and others. Really sad story - so much poaching, so little enforcement
would have preferred to read a long article on this story, or even seen a documentary.
you stand accused of clam crimes
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