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  • These Narragansett Bay quahogs, a type of hard clam(Mercenaria mercenaria), are on their way to spawner sanctuaries within Ninigret Pond, the largest coastal saltwater pond in southern Rhode Island. They are harvested from the bay by local shellfisherman and transplanted into the pond by volunteers to help improve water quality. © Chris Littlefield/TNC
  • These muddy, strong-backed volunteers are looking out for the next clam digger's boat to arrive filled with up to seventy - 50lb bags of clams. Individual bags are loaded by hand onto the flatbed for transport to Lavins Landing in Charlestown only to be loaded all over again onto boats headed out to dump the clams into designated areas of Ninigret Pond. © Chris Littlefield/TNC
  • A shellfisherman pauses from raking to look at the camera while digging. He is using a clam rake, also known as a bull rake. The quahogs for this transplant were harvested from Mill Cove in Wickford and Greenwich Cove in East Greenwich along the upper west side of Narragansett Bay. © Kevin Essington/TNC
  • Dennis Erken, from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management(DEM), is responsible for directing several shellfish tranplants a year, in partnership with the Rhode Island Shellfisherman's Association and with The Nature Conservancy. With his experience he was instrumental in helping to coordinate this effort. © Chris Littlefield/TNC
  • Volunteers are unloading the first of over a dozen boats filled to the gunnel. Approximately 200,000 adult clams will make their way to sanctuaries within Ninigret Pond where shellfishing will be prohibited until the adults have had a chance to spawn. © Kevin Essington/TNC
  • Caitlin Chaffee, using two hands to hold the heavy bag of clams, is Coastal Policy Analyst for the RI Coastal Resources Management Council. Her agency made this transplant possible by awarding a grant to The Nature Conservancy to fund the transplant and clam population research in Ninigret Pond. © Kevin Essington/TNC
  • Jules Opton-Himmel, Coastal and Estuary Specialist from The Nature Conservancy, is smiling knowing that his effort, and the effort of all the others, will increase the number of filter-feeding shellfish in the pond which will help to improve water quality, increase the number of juvenile clams, and provide more bottom structure for other marine life. © Kevin Essington/TNC
  • Many hands make light work. Volunteers swarm around the flatbed that carried the hundreds of bags of clams on their overland journey to Lavins Landing in Charlestown, where they are being loaded onto a Rhode Island DEM boat for transport to spawning sanctuaries. © Nat Rea
  • This clam transplant was truly a team effort. Many thanks go out to all the volunteers including those individuals representing the many organizations cooperating for this project, which include Save The Bay, the Coastal Resources Management Council(CRMC), The Salt Ponds Coalition, Clean Up Stonington Harbor(CUSH), The Nature Conservancy and the RI Department of Environmental Management(DEM). © Kevin Essington/TNC
  • Several of the up to 800 bags of adult quahogs are lined up waiting to help increase the shellfish population in Ningret Pond. © Nat Rea
  • Rumour had it that volunteering to lift heavy bags of clams was great fun so Gracelynn Guyll, from Clean Up Stonington Harbor(CUSH) jumped right in! © Nat Rea
  • Volunteers and a boat from Ocean House Marina underway with a load of clams headed for the sanctuary. © Nat Rea
  • Chris Littlefield, Director of Coastal and Marine Projects at The Nature Conservancy joined in to dump bags of adult clams. Other TNC projects have included scallop restoration in partnership with the Town of Stonington which was funded by the Lattner Foundation © Nat Rea
  • Billy Sieczkiewicz, locally known as “Billy Squid”, is dumping clams into Ninigret Pond. A single clam can filter gallons of water a day which improves water clarity allowing more sunlight to penetrate to deeper depths. This enhances photosynthesis for beneficial species of aquatic vegetation such as eelgrass. © Nat Rea
  • Dumping more clams in Ninigret Pond. A healthy clam population can have a positive impact on water quality by helping to keep phytoplankton populations under control that might otherwise decrease oxygen levels in the water thereby inhibiting the growth of other aquatic life. © Nat Rea
  • Aquaculturist, Rob Krause, is dumping even more clams. Shellfish are carbon-fixers and help reduce carbon dioxide levels in the pond by incorporating carbon into their shells. High concentrations of dissolved carbon dioxide in the water lowers the pH and also impacts a fish's ability to utilize the available oxygen. © Nat Rea
  • Jules wrapping up a successful transplant. This transplant will build upon similiar efforts from the previous 2 years to restore clam populations in Rhode Island salt ponds. Jules' team, donned in scuba gear and operating sampling equipment, will be surveying and monitoring the entire 1700-acre pond all summer. © Nat Rea
Rhode Island
Clams in Ninigret: One 50lb Bag at a Time

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