It's summertime and many of us find ourselves strolling New England beaches. These trips to the seashore often turn up interesting marine animals or unusual events. Just such a curious event happened last week in Hull. Beach walkers may have noticed thousands of tiny clams on Nantasket Beach, on the sand and just below the water line. What could have caused all these baby clams to wash up on Nantasket Beach?
We took that question to our aquaculture specialist in the Conservation Department, Michael Eppling.
While he wasn't aware of this particular event, he said these kinds of clam wash-ups are not uncommon. Among other things, they can be caused by disease, depredation, and storms.
Storms can generate strong wave action and/or undercurrents that uproot clams from the bottom and strand them on the beach. Since there were severe thunderstorms with strong winds on July 18, the day before the pictures were taken, this may have been the cause of the Nantasket die-off. Clams, however, are highly prolific, releasing millions of eggs and sperms at a time. So clam populations can generally withstand high larval and juveniles losses.
This particular clam die-off was brought to our attention by Facebook friend Steve Fullers. Thanks, Steve, for sharing your pictures with us!
See? You can learn something new every day with the New England Aquarium. Join us on Central Wharf this summer and get to know some other local bivalves and crustaceans in our hands-on tidepool touch area. Check out this link to see a touch-tank-resident hermit crab laying eggs. And if you think that is cool, don't miss these posts about the octopus eggs (these eggs are still on exhibit, come by very soon if you want to see them in person) or the goosefish egg veil.