Clamshell research gives hope to industry

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
6 November 2006, at 12:00am

US - A recent grant from the National Science Foundation will help a researcher at Saint Joseph's College in Standish study the death of clams in Casco Bay.

Mark Green, a professor of marine science, received a $419,898 grant to examine what conditions in mud flats lead to the premature death of hardshell and softshell clams.
The three-year grant will help Green with research that could potentially benefit an industry that generates more than $15 million a year.

Green received a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation in 2000. His research showed that young clams die in large numbers because naturally occurring conditions in sediment cause their shells to dissolve. This was contrary to the belief that the clams fell victim to natural predators such as crabs, seagulls and ducks.

"For decades, people assumed they disappeared because they were being eaten," he said.
Working in a laboratory as well as on the shore in Freeport and South Portland, Green and assistant Shannon Reilly will examine further what causes the shells to dissolve and what can be done to allow clams to flourish.

While young clams are trying to make shells from the inside out, acid in the sediment is eating away at the calcium carbonate shell from the outside in, he said.
Clams can have millions of offspring that first must survive in the ocean. Of those that make it to a mud flat, that number also will decrease drastically, he said.

Source: Press Herald