All About Clam Farming

Farming clams is something that takes generations to perfect. Experts must have a deep knowledge of the waters, the year cycle, and optimal clam harvest times to ensure a successful process. Here at H.M. Terry Co, we farm raise our clams in the ocean-filtered Atlantic waters of Hog Island Bay, VA.

The Process

Let’s take a look at the clam farming process overall.

Many clam farmers buy clams as young spats (these are baby clams that have not yet grown a shell) from hatcheries. At this point, they only measure a centimeter long. They are seeded in the ocean floor, with a net covering them to protect against predators such as crabs. The net tends to get clogged with algae so it has to be periodically replaced.

These stationary clams need a steady flow of water so they can feed, which makes the strong tides of coastal bays and estuaries the perfect environment.

The clams filter particles and nutrients from the water, and that’s how they get the food they need to survive. But this process is also beneficial to the surrounding water quality because they are actually filtering out the bad stuff. Clams don’t need antibiotics or additional supplies of food like other farmed seafood does. There are strict protocols in place set by state governments that farmers must follow. Environmental concerns such as red tide are constantly monitored, and environmental alerts will be issued when called for.

There are many different types of farming operations. Small farmers harvest their clams by hand with rakes and trowels, performed at low tide. Other operations raise clams in bags or cages on the ocean floor and lift them out of the water when ready. Both these options have a minimal impact on the ocean environment.

Larger operations use hand-held dredges, which can result in some disturbance to the seafloor but it doesn’t last for long and it doesn’t cause as much damage as those huge hydraulic dredges that industrial fisheries use.

Fun Facts About Clams

Now that you know all about how they are farmed, here are some fun facts to keep in mind about clams.

  • There are more than 15,000 different species of clams worldwide.
  • Clams can burrow in the sand more than 11 inches.
  • The biggest clam in the world is known as the giant clam, and it is found in the coral reefs of the tropical Indian and Pacific oceans.
  • Some species of clams can live more than 100 years.

Contact H.M. Terry Co.

Interested in learning more about our clam farming processes? Feel free to place your order with us at 757-442-7006 today. Our farm-raised Sewansecott clams are harvested from the pristine inter-coastal waters of Virginia’s Coastal Reserve for the ultimate in flavor and texture.