GOULDSBORO — In fog and drizzle — overall clammy weather — some 75 people turned out for the Shellfish Committee and Schoodic Institute’s “Gouldsboro Community Clam Tasting” held late Monday afternoon at the Prospect Harbor village green. Sampling locally harvested clams, year-round and seasonal residents sampled learned and asked questions about the town’s evolving Shellfish Resilience Laboratory in Bunkers Harbor and clam flat restoration work.
In and around the gazebo, the raingear-clad crowd clustered, dipping steamed softshell clams in melted butter. The 25 pounds of soft-shell clams were dug by Shellfish Committee member Mike Cronin in Jones Cove in West Gouldsboro. Another committee member, Dale Church, steamed the bivalves while the Shellfish Lab’s volunteers Maia DeRosear and Halle Farnsworth dished up the steamers.
“Soft-shell clams are the major harvestable clam in this area,” Schoodic Institute’s Education Specialist Sarah Hooper explained to the crowd, some of whom had never had steamers before. She noted soft-shell clams have a brittle shell and are easily breakable. “Because they are so soft, they need the mud to retain their shell.”
Starting last winter, the town of Gouldsboro and Schoodic Institute have remodeled a former clam-buying station belonging to D B Fisheries owner and Gouldsboro Selectmen Dana Rice on Bunkers Cove’s eastern shore. Rice has made part of the structure available at no charge for as long as the space is needed. The building’s remodeling has been largely completed save for the plumbing. As part of their joint shellfish resilience project, the town and Schoodic Institute have made the facility their waterfront base to raise and sow baby soft-shell clams in local flats. The project also is serving as a trial balloon for other coastal communities. The lab also will serve as an auxiliary classroom for Regional School Unit 24 staff and students, who will participate in the facility’s operation and activities during the school year.
“This is a model and other towns are looking and asking how it is working and what does it mean,” Gouldsboro Shellfish Warden Mike Pinkham said.
In late June, as part of this year’s work, Shellfish Committee members and volunteers installed the project’s first batch of clam spat or larvae in nursery trays set in the former Bunkers Cove lobster pound. They also have been removing prolific, predator green crabs from area flats.