No More Clams Can Be Found In Conception Bay

By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Founding Publisher
February 7, 2019

We were the first to find the bed of steamer clams out by a reef in Conception Bay.

In a half an hour, at low tide, one could fill a 5 gallon bucket of the steamers and have dinner for four.

The steamers were so good served in hot garlic butter, we told a few of our friends where the bed was.

It was not long before we saw them coming back with buckets full, and far more than they could possibly eat.

They bragged about how many clams they could get in and hour or two.

Year after year, we went out to the reef, and with each year, it took a little longer to fill the bucket. Then three years ago, we went out and we were not able to get enough for dinner. The same happened last year, when we had invited friends over for steamed clams. Actually our dinner guests went out with us to get them.

“Nothing!”

Today we were apprehensive about finding clams, and did not plan a dinner; however, we just wanted to find out the status of the clam bed.

It was a beautiful afternoon and the tide was lower than usual. The ocean was like glass as we rowed our small dinghy out a mile or two. Just the exercise was worth the trip.

When we got to the bed, the water seemed a little higher than usual. It was cold at first as we slipped over the side of the boat.

Sitting right on the sand bottom, we reached down and clawed with one hand. After a couple of strokes we came up with one clam, and then another five minutes later, and we had eight clams in 20 minutes.

We decided not to take any home with us.

Depressed, we got back into the dingy and rowed away. We were very sad at what had happened to the bed of clams; in just 10 years. We felt we were to blame.

We had told some people about the clam bed, and they had told others. Each one taking more of the clams. No one seemed to think, how easy it was to take so many of the clams that the bed would not regenerate itself.

We lost one of the most enjoyable experiences of living around this otherwise pristine bay.

It was a long slow row home as the sun went down on the far side of the bay. We talked about the clams, and how good they used to be, and swore that we would never, ever mention the clam bed to anyone again.

When other people saw us get out of our dinghy with our bucket, they asked about getting clams for dinner. Our answer was simply, “There are none.”

We are still stunned by how fast just a few people can deplete a whole bed of clams, and how long it takes for them to come back.

Our guess is that it will take at least 10 years for the clam bed to come back, or maybe never.


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