Wednesday, September 9, 2009

clam seed

I took a trip to the newly expanded shellfish hatchery at Roger Williams University over the Labor Day weekend. Karin Tammi, the hatchery manager, gave me a tour and tutorial on how to spawn, settle, and grow oysters and quahogs, from larvae to spat (newly metamorphosed bivalves) to juvenile and reproductive adult. (FYI, I have a new fascination with bivalves, and, if you frequent maritima, you're sure to hear more.)

It's hard to avoid an interest in quahogs living in Little Rhody, the Ocean State, home to one of the most productive quahog fisheries in the country (8% of the national market share in 1997, down from 25% in 1985, Source: Rice et al. 2000). You can find families digging seaside at many public access beaches, and any real Rhody has their favorite quahogging spots and techniques, though they may not be willing to share these secrets.

You might be surprised to find out that the quahog fishery is supplemented in several ways. Quahogs are moved from the Providence River, where water quality is poor, to areas in Narragansett Bay where water quality is better. Collected quahogs have also been used to found spawner sanctuaries in grounds closed to shellfishing. Additionally, hatchery reared juveniles are added, or seeded, in areas, notably Greenwich Bay, where I collected the quahog below. You can see a distinct color change in the shell indicating a change in the environmental conditions where it was living (e.g. from a hatchery to the Bay).
From maritima

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