After a long winter, the clams are finally ready to start feeding and growing again. During the winter, the clams were packed together in mesh bags, lying dormant in one of the upweller tanks in the lab. This past week, we cleaned out the second upweller tank and, once filled with sea water, transferred the clams from the mesh bags into five-gallon mesh-bottom buckets where they could spread out while still having access to a constant flow of water.

During this process, we found three green crabs hiding amongst the clams. They ranged from about ½ inch to ⅛ inch long. The green crabs most likely came into the upweller tanks through the pump in a planktonic stage. Once inside the tank, they got into the clam bags and started to grow over the winter. Luckily, we found them before they were large enough to do too much damage. The benefit of keeping the clams indoors in the upwellers rather than outside in the nursery trays is that we can constantly check in on the clams and look for predators like green crabs. Minutes after we transferred the clams into the buckets, we could see their necks pop out indicating that they were feeding by siphoning nutrients from the water.

An aerial view of five-gallon buckets containing clams of varying sizes inside a filled upweller tank.
five-gallon buckets, each containing clams of varying sizes, inside the upweller tank
A mass of very small clams about the size rice siting on a scale.
More than 50,000 clams, each a few weeks old.

The next day, Mike Pinkham and I took a trip up to DEI (Downeast Institute) to get around 300,000 seed clams (2mm or smaller). While there, I was able to get a tour of their well-run shellfish hatchery. When we got back to the lab, Mike Pinkham, Bill Zoellick, and I weighed out the new seed clams on a scale. We split those clams into six fairly even groups and placed each group of clams into a separate 1mm mesh-bottom bucket. With our first upweller tank now drained and waiting to be cleaned, both our seed clams and one-year-old clams are in mesh-bottom buckets in the second upweller tank. Now that all of our clams are ready to start feeding and Bill Zoellick’s air and water temperature monitors are up and running, we are ready to start collecting data on the one-year-old clams. We can compare this new data to the data that was collected on the same clams in the fall of 2021 to determine how many clams survived the winter and whether they grew at all over the winter.

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