Shellfish are among Narragansett Bay’s iconic species. Clams, oysters, and mussels are native to our local waters, and scallops have begun to make a comeback with our help.
Quahogs are large hard-shelled clams and cherrystones or littlenecks are smaller hard-shelled clams. Soft-shelled clams are often referred to as steamer clams.
These shellfish filter gallons of water every day, helping to remove excess nutrients from the water. At the same time, shellfish absorb pollutants such as sewage and toxic metals that make them unsafe to eat. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) manages shellfishing to protect public health.
The bay scallop (Argopecten irradians) was once a prevalent species in Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island served as a scallop supplier to surrounding areas, including New York. The scallop fishery was lost when eelgrass beds began to die from disease, pollution, and coastal development. Bay scallops are starting to return to areas of Narragansett Bay. Save The Bay has been working to restore eelgrass which is the scallops’ ideal nursery and habitat.
Save The Bay has been using caged scallop spawner sanctuaries in the Bay and the salt ponds as a restoration technique to bring back the bay scallop. The cages provide protection from predators and give the broodstock scallops a chance to spawn. Through spat bag collection and dive surveys, Save The Bay determines success by an increase in spat (juvenile scallops). In 2010, 20,0000 scallops were placed in Point Judith Pond to boost populations, and in 2013, cages have been deployed in Ninigret Pond.
Scallop Restoration Fact Sheet