Monday, June 15, 2009

Clam Of The Future

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.


TROLL Y2K said...

Cool. I don't like Quahogs, so maybe I'll like these better.

Come show off your swamp critter knowledge at TTR.

ChrisC and JonJ said...

I collect the SunRay Venus shells.There are lots of them,alive and dead,of the large ones @ Ft.DeSoto,and on Caya Costa,also.

Caroline said...

We have a couple of sunray venus shells in our collection from a couple of Sanibel trips. They were fun to find. Love clam chowder, South Dakota isn't the place to find the good stuff, though. :o}

amarkonmywall said...

Now I am seriously jealous of your educational adventures. This is great stuff- really interesting and good photos. I read yesterday that Florida is also the first state to start irradiating oysters at some very very low level (presumably, hopefully harmless) so that bacteria is killed before market. I can see where these sea creatures would be fertile little petri dishes for all kinds of microbes.

lisa said...

Love clams, hopefully they will be an appetizer on my plate.

Doug Taron said...

I just got back from my clam pilgrimage. Great post- I hadn't been aware of artificial clam culture before. I always thought that the problem with quahogs wasn't that they don't taste good (quahog chowder is delicious. Yes, I'm talking about the white stuff) but that they are very tough.