Late this afternoon, I got word from Mike Pinkham that he and Jim McLean finished setting up and plumbing the new, second tank that we will use to grow clams over the summer in Gouldsboro’s Shellfish Resilience Lab. This tank is an essential part of this summer’s research program, which will compare growing one-year-old clams inside the lab with growing them outside, in nursery trays floating in the harbor.

Regular readers may remember that our experience raising clams in nursery trays last summer was disappointing because crabs ate many clams. So, we decided to move a large portion of our clam rearing operation inside this summer, using upwellers in the lab to grow clams from a size of a grain of rice to a half-inch or more. We will also use the upwellers to grow out last year’s clams–the ones that have spent the winter in the lab–so that they are a bit bigger and more able to fend for themselves before we set them out into the mud where they will contend with green crabs.

A large, shallow white tank with a few inches of water on the bottom of the tank, reflecting lights from above
The shellfish lab’s second tank as it begins to fill with seawater.

The picture on the left shows the new tank as it was filling with water this afternoon. You can see the reflections of the overhead lights in the water. The large black pipe running down the center of the tank has holes along its side. Once the water level reaches that pipe, seawater coming in at the end of the tank (notice the angled inlet pipe) will flow back out of the tank to the ocean. A valve will go into each hole, and we will attach a 5-gallon bucket to each valve. We have removed the bottom of each bucket and replaced it with fine mesh. The clams will sit on the mesh and eat and eat (and grow and grow) as the seawater flows up from the bottom of each bucket and out through the valve at the top. The valves allow us to control the flow (and close off holes where there are no buckets).

All of that work needs to be done in the next weeks. Fortunately, our summer shellfish lab intern, Noah Milsky, starts next week on Monday. We are going to be SO GLAD to see him!

Things are starting to happen fast. We will keep you posted over the coming weeks on our research plans, building more equipment, and what we learn.

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