CLINTON — The sound of labored breathing crackles over the radio aboard the fishing boat Rawdeal on an overcast morning in late May.

Anchored about 100 yards off the eastern coastline of Whidbey Island, within sight of the Clinton ferry landing, the crew on the 26-foot aluminum fishing boat is after geoduck. The giant clams, which grow wild in the Pacific Northwest, are pound for pound the most-valuable seafood being harvested from Puget Sound today.

“I just can't equalize,” diver Jesus Madrigal, a member of the Tulalip Tribes, tells skipper Dennis Hegnes, the boat's owner. In SCUBA speak, this means Madrigal's ears aren't adjusting to the change in pressure as he descends.

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