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.

Latest Posts


Three clams laying on a table with different looking tunicates attached to the clam shells

Tunicate Trouble

Every other day, I hose down the one-year-old clams and their mesh-bottom buckets with salt water. As I was rinsing and washing these buckets, I saw an increasing number of unfamiliar organisms attached to the one-year-old clams. After discussing these organisms with the Downeast Institute (DEI) as well as the Department of Marine Resources (DMR),…

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Aerial view of of our tiny seed clams clumped together.

Seed Clam Growth

Just about one month ago, we put our tiny seed clams in the upweller tank. Because this was our first time rearing clams this small in the upweller tanks, there was a steep learning curve. A day after we spread the little clams evenly into six, one millimeter mesh-bottom buckets, we soon realized that these…

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tank 2 is slowly being filled with saltwater after it was just cleaned.

Cleaning the Tanks

Procedure Make sure the pump is running and put on an apron and boots Turn off the water flow in tank 2 Carefully scrape down the sides of the seed clam bucket with your hand making sure there are no seed clams stuck to the sides.  Some seed clams like to stick to the sides…

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Clam Count and Weight Data Collection

Procedure Set up a table near the upweller Gather materials: Amir Digital Kitchen Scale  Petri dish ¼ cup scooper Paper towels notepad Using the ¼ cup scooper, scoop out a random sample of clams from one of the buckets The clams should fill more than half of the cup, but not totally full Try to…

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Shell Length Data Collection

Procedure Set up a table near the upweller Gather materials: Caliper  ¼ cup scooper Paper towels notepad Using the ¼ cup scooper, scoop out a random sample of clams from one of the buckets Try to remove the water from the scooper before placing the sample of clams on the paper towel Randomly select one…

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