Doing their part: Baymen spread clam seedlings in Hashamomuck Pond

10/16/2015 2:16 PM |

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In an effort to increase reseeding efforts and reinvigorate Hashamomuck Pond in Southold this past week, the Southold Town Baymen’s Association spread more than twice the amount of clam seedlings as it did last year.

On a small skiff buzzing across the pond’s placid waters Thursday, association president Nate Andruski threw about 250,000 tiny clam seedlings into the water with the help of Gregg Rivara and Mike Patricio, both from the Cornell Cooperative Extension (and Mr. Andruski’s dog, Oscar).

“We’re doing this to try and maintain a sustainable shellfish stock,” Mr. Andruski said. “We’re just trying to give a helping hand.”

Mr. Andruski said Hashamomuck Pond used to be a prime location for clamming, but has since fallen on harder times. Around 1999, he said, the quality and number of clams dropped.

“This spot is in dire need of help,” Mr. Andruski said. “It used to be the best spot for clamming, but then it crapped out.”

He pointed to development of houses around the pond — which, bigger than ever, are likely using more and more fertilizer and septic infrastructure — as a possible reason.

Although Southold Town does some clam reseeding, Mr. Andruski said his association wants to supplement those efforts. In the past, it had focused exclusively on Hallocks Bay in Orient, but this year, Mr. Andruski wanted to work in Hashamomuck Pond.

The seedlings, which are no more than a few millimeters across, are grown in a hatchery at first before they are moved to wild waters. They tend to be born around March as microscopic organisms, and in the early fall, the baymen fill them into bins and take to the water.

The clams begin their lives as microscopic organisms, then grow to a few millimeters across before being thrown into the water. (Credit: Chris Lisinski)

The clams begin their lives as microscopic organisms, then grow to a few millimeters across before being thrown into the water. (Credit: Chris Lisinski)

After a few years, they grow into a harvestable size, so, hopefully, locals can once again enjoy clamming in Hashamomuck Pond in the near future.

“If we get half of them to survive, that’d be huge,” Mr. Rivara said.

Every year since 2009, the Baymen’s Association holds a fundraiser and uses that money to purchase the seedlings from Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The next fundraiser, is a sold out Lobster bake, which will be held on Oct. 24 at Founder’s Wharf House to generate money for next year’s reseeding efforts. The association has already sold 135 tickets for that, and hopes to make between $8,000 and $9,000.

Top photo caption: Nate Andruski, president of the Southold Town Baymen’s Association (pictured), said reseeding Hashamomuck Pond will reinvigorate local clamming. (Credit: Chris Lisinski)

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