The columns above are plankton cultures for the feeding of young clams that are spawned at Harbor Branch. Several different types of algae are raised for the clam "seed" that HBOI produces. The older colonies are the denser, darker columns.
The 3 dishes above hold Sunray Venus clams of different ages. This clam is poised to be the next big thing in clam aquaculture. Sunrays have an elongated shape compared to Quahog clams that are the mainstay of commercial clam farming,but they taste great.
HBOI has been researching them to diversify the Florida clam farming market. Right now clam aquaculture is almost entirely Quahog and that brings the risk of a pandemic disease wiping out the industry ... remember the corn smut disaster of the '70's when most corn in the US was one variety?
Sunrays are really beautiful compared to ol' Mercenaria mercenaria too!
The HBOI prof said they sunrays also have a neat characteristic where the shell turns pink when steamed, so if a pretty striped, pink clamshell turns up on your appetizer plate in the near future, it could be a Florida farm raised sunray venus.
Kind of a pink venus on the halfshell.