Harvesting softshell clams has been important to Gouldsboro’s economy and to the town’s culture for generations. Over the past decade, warming ocean temperatures and milder winters have made it easier for green crabs to survive the winter. They now also grow more quickly and reproduce sooner. Since green crabs eat clams, the explosion of the crab population has resulted in a collapse of the clam population along much of Gouldsboro’s shore.

With help from the Downeast Institute, the Schoodic Institute, the Maine Shellfish Restoration and Resilience Fund, and others, the town’s shellfish committee decided to begin restoring some of the most productive clam flats. At the center of that effort is the town’s new Shellfish Resilience Lab, where the town grows clams for use in restoring clam populations on selected clam flats. What Gouldsboro learns from the experiments and data collection at its “Clam Lab” will not only help local clam harvesters but also other communities that are confronting similar challenges to their clam fisheries.

For background about the Shellfish Resilience Lab and how Gouldsboro plans to use it, see Why a Shellfish Lab? To keep up with news about the lab and the town’s shellfish restoration work, check back here and sign up for news updates.

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Rockweed and mud in the foreground, open water in the middle, the north shore of Gouldsboro Bay, and at the top, a sky with lovely clouds.

Community Clam Dig

Readers have emailed us questions about the Community Clam Dig in Prospect Harbor at 3 PM next Sunday, October 9 that we featured in our most recent newsletter. This post answers those questions and extends an invitation to join us and learn more about what clam harvesters do and how you can dig your own clams.

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banner that reads "Gouldsboro Shore Community Clam Dig"

Learn How to Dig Clams!

Gouldsboro Shore and the Gouldsboro Shellfish Committee invite the community clam digging demonstrations and lessons on Sunday, October 9, at 3:00 PM in Prospect Harbor. Whether you’ve dug your own clams for a while or have never been on the mud, this is an opportunity to learn from commercial diggers about how to spot where clams are and dig them.

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A large skiff sitting on a mudflat with the shore and trees in the background. In the foreground are more than two dozen shallow wooden boxes that hold the arctic surf clams.

Clam Research in Timber Cove

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.

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A hand holding sea creatures found in the drain line.

“Volunteers” in the Lines. CRUNCH Followed by WHOOSH!

Wednesday, 9/7, was a big day at the Shellfish Resilience Lab. Four of us (Chantal, Elin, Mike, and Pauline) went to the lab to do a routine tank cleaning. Cabot, the Lab Labrador, was there as well, “guarding” the loading dock for us. We figured it would take about an hour and a half with all of us experienced tank cleaners there. Not so, it turns out.

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Nursery Trays are Floating

Last week, Mike Pinkham and I spent a few days constructing five nursery trays that our small seed clams would soon be placed in. A nursery tray is a rectangular wooden tray about 3-4 feet in length and width, and about 3 inches high. The bottom and top of each tray is made of a…

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