Super clams might be coming to Indian River Lagoon
Clams might make a comeback in the Indian River Lagoon
In the early 1980s, the floor of the Indian River Lagoon was covered with clams. Rampant commercial clamming in the 1990s largely wiped them out, and increasing pollutants in the water helped to finish the job.
Many today think clams are gone — but wait, this might change!
Last year, researchers from the University of Florida’s Whitney Lab found a small population of “Super clams” in the Mosquito Lagoon. “Super” because they seemed to be thriving despite the increased pollution levels.
Researchers took 39 adults back to the lab and were able to breed an amazing 40 million larvae. Culling for the hardiest, they now have a collection of 4 million growers ready for placement in the Indian River Lagoon. Indeed, a million already have been put in two locations — Southern Mosquito Lagoon and Northern Indian River Lagoon. Two million more are ready to go as soon as the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and Whitney can recruit volunteers.
If successful, the clams will join the increasing number of oysters in the Indian River Lagoon that actively clean out waters. Five million clams can filter 36 billion gallons of water annually. Of course, once planted, the clams should be making millions more annually by themselves. And, the Whitney Labs hope to begin placing 5 million annually beginning in 2021.
Efforts so far have been supported by the University of Florida, the IRL Council, the Brevard Tourism Board, Fish America, the City of Satellite Beach and the Coastal Conservations Association. Project lead Todd Osborne is looking for additional funders and is lining up more than 20 commercial organizations interested in farming and harvesting clams.
For information, go to IRLClamProject.com.
Yes, “Super clams” soon might return to the Indian River Lagoon.
To learn more about how to help the Indian River Lagoon, go to HelpTheLagoon.org