Outcomes from 2017 Work!
SMHS Pathways students assisted in collecting the DMR’s
John Small Cove data (see the poster titled “A Study of Clam
Settlement in John Small Cove”) and also helped Kyle
Pepperman of DEI collect data from sites in Steuben and
Gouldsboro. The DEI studies used 6” plastic pots containing
a known number hatchery clams (Beal et al., 2001; 2002) and
• Clam settlement and growth varied across diﬀerent sites.!
• There were places where there was a lot of settlement
even though there were few adult clams due to predation.!
The John Small Cove study, which is described in detail in
the “Study of Clam Settlement” poster, considered high tide
and low tide locations in addition to the eﬀect of protective
netting. As illustrated in Figure 1, settlement boxes covered
by water for more time had more clams and larger clams.!
The ﬁndings from the DEI studies, when considered together
with the John Small Cove data, suggest that:!
• Crab predation can kill most of the clams in an area.!
• There can still be good settlement in places without mature
• Nets can make a diﬀerence.!
• To get a good measures of clam settlement and growth we
need to do everything possible to keep crabs out of the
boxes used to measure settlement.!
• It might be possible to grow clams so that they are big
enough to avoid crab predation (shell length > 30 mm
according to Beal et al. (2016)) by locating clam “nurseries”
so that they are submerged most of the time.!
These ideas became the basis for planning the work we will
do in 2018 in the research area that the students are creating
on the site of an abandoned lobster pound.
In the fall of 2017 students from Sumner Memorial High
School (SMHS) assisted the Maine Department of Marine
Resources (DMR) and the Downeast Institute (DEI) in the
collection and processing of softshell clam samples from
a number of sites in Steuben and Gouldsboro. In
addition, students began work on repurposing an
abandoned lobster pound for use as a research site.!
SMHS students have prepared other posters for
presentation at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum that
describe the lobster pound repurposing and present
ﬁndings from a study of clam settlement.!
In this poster we step back to take a broader view of the
project. We describe the purposes the project is intended
to serve, outcomes from the 2017 work, and plans for the
The SMHS Clam Research program is designed to
provide opportunities for students to learn by engaging in
authentic scientiﬁc work. Equally important, it aims to
help the towns that it serves – currently, Steuben and
Gouldsboro – manage softshell clam resources. Some of
the help comes in the form of extra hands to help with
conservation work on the clam ﬂats. But the program
also assists towns by developing and deploying data
collection methods and protocols that students can use
to answer important questions such as:!
• Where is clam settlement most abundant?!
• What is the rate of clam growth and where is growth
• Where is predation most aggressive and destructive?!
Answers to these questions will be diﬀerent for each bay,
cove, or other site that a town manages. Knowing how
sites diﬀer will help towns manage the clam ﬁshery.!
Once Schoodic Institute learns how to do this well with
SMHS and the towns that it serves, we will work toward
expanding the program to other towns and schools.
This project draws upon the skills, talents, and know-how
of teachers, students, town shellﬁsh committees, the
Maine DMR, and the Downeast Institute. Financial
support is provided by the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation
through the Whole Schools, Whole Communities initiative
within the ELLMS (Environmental Living and Learning for
Maine Students) network.!
Plans for 2018!
Our goals for he 2018 season are to:!
• Investigate the relationship between the amount of
time that clams are underwater and the rate of
growth. (We will use the new gate on the research
pound to vary water levels.)!
• Investigate the eﬀect of using protective netting
with diﬀerent mesh sizes (4.2 mm, 6.4 mm, 12.8 mm)
• Create and test a working prototype of an easy-to-
deploy clam settlement collector that towns can use
to compare clam settlement at diﬀerent sites.!
• Develop methods for collecting information about
green crab density and life cycle at diﬀerent sites.!
Our aim is to develop standardized protocols that other
schools and towns can use to collect data about clams
and clam predators in their own clam ﬂats. By 2019 we
hope to have curriculum materials and teacher
professional development to accompany the protocols,
along with a means for towns and schools to share the
data that they are collecting about clam populations,
settlement, and growth along the Maine coast.!
For more information contact Bill Zoellick at the Schoodic
Bill Zoellick - Schoodic Institute#
Students from Sumner Memorial High School Pathways Program
Abraham, B. J., & Dillon, P. L. (1986). Species Profiles: Life Histories and Environmental
Requirements of Coastal Fishes and Invertebrates (Mid-Atlantic): Softshell Clams (No. Biological
Report 82(11.68)). National Wetlands Research Cener, Fish and Wildlife Service
Beal, B. F. (2006). Biotic and Abiotic Factors Influencing Growth and Survival of Wild and Cultured
Individuals of the Softshell Clam (Mya Arenaria L.) in Eastern Maine. Journal of Shellfish
Research, 25(2), 461–474.
Beal, B. F., & Kraus, M. Gayle. (2002). Interactive effects of initial size, stocking density, and type of
predator deterrent netting on survival and growth of cultured juveniles of the soft-shell clam, Mya
arenaria L., in eastern Maine. Aquaculture, 208(1), 81–111.
Beal, B. F., Nault, D.-M., Annis, H., Thayer, P., Leighton, H., & Ellis, B. (2016). Comparative, Large-
Scale Field Trials Along the Maine Coast to Assess Management Options to Enhance
Populations of the Commercially Important Softshell Clam, Mya arenariaL. Journal of Shellfish
Research, 35(4), 711–727. http://doi.org/10.2983/035.035.0401
Beal, B. F., Parker, M. R., & Vencile, K. W. (2001). Seasonal effects of intraspecific density and
predator exclusion along a shore-level gradient on survival and growth of juveniles of the soft-
shell clam, Mya arenaria L., in Maine, USA. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and
Ecology, 264(2), 133–169.
Tan, E. B. P., & Beal, B. F. (2015). Interactions between the invasive European green crab,
Carcinus maenas (L.), and juveniles of the soft-shell clam, Mya arenaria L., in eastern Maine,
USA. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 462, 62–73.
Drawing on research undertaken by the Downeast
Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and others (see
the list of Research Resources), the students and adults
in this project approach this work in the context of rapid
ecological changes in Maine’s clam ﬁshery. In particular,
we begin with the assumption that control of green crabs
and other predators is essential to management of the
ﬁshery. It is within that context that we inquire into local
variation and opportunities with regard to clam settle-
ment, clam growth, and predation control.