Online panel discussion on soft-shell clams April 28 

CASTINE — The Wilson Museum is sponsoring an online panel discussion on soft-shell clams on Thursday, April 28, from 6:30-8 p.m. via Zoom. 

The soft-shell clam (Mya arenaria) has been a significant source of food for people living along the Maine coast for thousands of years. But did you know that these humble mollusks can also tell us a lot about climate change? 

Three researchers from Maine will come together to share the various ways they have sought clues about changing climates from soft-shell clams, and how this can inform choices we make and actions we take today. 

For her master’s thesis in quaternary and climate studies at the University of Maine, Kate Pontbriand studied clam shells from a pre-contact Wabanaki village site in Gouldsboro and compared them to contemporary clams from Frenchman Bay to better understand changing water temperatures and seasonality. 

Sarah Grindle Levesque, a 2014 graduate of the Corning School of Ocean Studies at Maine Maritime Academy, used GIS to explore the impact of rising sea levels on Wabanaki (soft-shell clam) shell heaps on the Maine coast, demonstrating the loss of cultural and environmental data through erosion and other impacts. 

Coming forward in time a thousand years or so to today, Sophia Chivers, a current student at College of the Atlantic, is researching the impacts of climate change on the soft-shell clam fishery and tactics to mitigate those impacts through her work on Bar Harbor’s clam-flats and an internship at the Shellfish Resilience Lab. 

The panelists will gather virtually on Zoom. To receive the Zoom link for this program, email Haley at [email protected] with the subject line “Shell Panel Zoom Link.” 

This program is part of the “Shells: Indicators of Ocean Health” segment of the Wilson Museum’s “Connecting to Collections” program series made possible through the support of Bangor Savings Bank. 

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