Timber Cove, located just west of Gouldsboro Point, is one of two research sites the Downeast Institute (DEI) is using to study Arctic surfclams. Over the last decade, DEI has been investigating whether Arctic surfclams might be a way to diversify the kinds of shellfish available to commercial and recreational clammers. They grow naturally in Maine’s offshore waters, and DEI is developing and testing techniques for raising them on intertidal mudflats.

A live Arctic surfclam extending its purple foot.
Arctic surfclams have a purple-colored foot that turns a brilliant shade of reddish-orange when cooked. (photo: B. Beal)

Arctic surfclams, also known as hen clams, bar clams, or sea clams, are frequently found in sandy or sandy-mud substrates near extreme low tide levels on many shores along the Maine coast. In addition, they are the basis of an extensive subtidal fishery in the Mid-Atlantic Bight off the coasts of New Jersey and Delaware. In the Gulf of Maine, they live at depths 100- to 200-feet of below the surface of the water in soft bottoms. They are also in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Scotian Shelf, and Grand Banks (Atlantic Canada), where a commercial fishery exists that generates over $60 million annually. In addition, Arctic surfclams occur in the northern Arctic and Pacific oceans from Point Barrow to southeast Alaska, where they can be found in the intertidal zone.

For readers interested in learning more about this research, Dr. Brian Beal, DEI’s Director of Research, has provided the following summary of the work underway in Timber Cove. It includes links to more information on the DEI website.

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