Indian River Lagoon Clam Restoration to Help Restore Important Waterway
The Indian River Lagoon Clam Restoration initiative entered its third year in 2021. In 2019, adult Mercenaria mercenaria clams were collected from Mosquito Lagoon and spawned. These “superclams” survived the brown tide and hypoxic event of 2012 and subsequent bloom events prompting Dr. Todd Osborne to believe these clams are genetically stronger and would produce progeny capable of survival in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL).
A total of 2.5 million clams were raised and repatriated to aquaculture lease locations in the IRL in the first year. During the pandemic, the project was able to maintain productivity with the strong collaborations between Blair Wiggins Outdoors, Premium Seafood Inc, St. Johns River Water Management District, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, The Coastal Conservation Association, Star Brite and the IRL Council. Project partners and Whitney researchers distributed more than 11 million clams at the close of 2021. Dr. Todd Osborne and Mr. Jose Nunez have secured funding from the IRL Council, FL DEP and private donor sources for 14 Mil additional clams from 2022-2024.
A significant portion of our current work is in collaboration with the Brevard Zoo in developing a new clam gardener program that has established 100 clam grow out sites within Brevard County that are being monitored by citizen scientists. This program will mirror the oyster gardener program in its punctuality and will allow Whitney researchers to gather spatially explicit information about clam populations in the IRL. Monitoring of water quality and natural recruitment will continue for the duration of this project.