Soft Shell Clams in the Gulf of Maine

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 by Savannah


"Clam Chowder" by Neil Conway (https://www.flickr.com/photos/neilconway/5899245934)In terms of seafood, Maine is 
perhaps best known for its lobster; however, one of the other most lucrative fisheries in the state is a creature that also builds a shell but lives under the mud: the soft shell clam.  

Soft shell clams (Mya arenaria)also called "steamers" or "longnecks"—are the type of clam you'd find in a bowl of chowder. Maine is the biggest producer of soft shell clams in the country, but in 2017 Maine saw it lowest soft shell clam harvest in 87 years (approximately 1.4 million pounds).  

Reasons for the decline may include fewer fishermen out clammingrising ocean temperatures, harmful algal blooms, and a growing number of predators. Interestingly, it takes 2 to 3 years for softshell clams to grow big enough to catch, but their average lifespan is 10-12 years! Fishermen harvest soft shell clams year-round, with the peak season from May to October. 

At LabVenture! we've been talking a lot lately about sea level rise and coastal habitats, which include the tidal mudflats where soft shell clams live. Do you think sea level rise might have an impact on these clams and their habitat in the future? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! 


Sources: 

WGME



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