Throughout August, for the past seven years, volunteer citizen scientists have been surveying the Upper Saranac Watershed for Asian Clams. Although we hope this particular aquatic invasive species (AIS) isn’t in our watershed, this annual survey determines if they’ve been introduced.
There’s still time left if you’re interested in joining this year’s citizen science effort. This is a great child-friendly opportunity to get involved to preserve and maintain the water quality of our watershed — all while having fun. Volunteers will be instructed on what to look for while using gear provided by the Upper Saranac Foundation (USF) to sieve through shallow sandy areas.
Volunteers take sediment samples of shoreline areas in search of infestations of Asian clams. If any populations of Asian Clams are suspected, a rigorous follow-up survey by USF to map the density and geographic extent of the population will be completed for management and hopeful eradication.
To volunteer, reach out to USF Lake Manager Guy Middleton at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information can be found on the USF web page at usfoundation.net/programs/invasive-species/asian-clams-survey/
Asian clams can grow and spread rapidly, displacing native species, reducing biodiversity, and altering the food web. Nutrients from their excrement can degrade water quality, and feed plant and algal growth. These clams create direct impacts on the recreational tourism economy and reduce property values.
Asian Clams are not native to the United States and were brought here as an unwelcome import. Since then, they have spread through the bait and aquarium trade. Juveniles can be moved around in bait buckets and other areas of boats that hold water. As with all invasive species, Asian Clams do not have any local competitors that will keep their population in check. A single clam can self-fertilize, reproduce up to twice a year, and can produce 2,000 to 4,000 juveniles per year. Densities can reach up to 6,000 or more clams per square meter.
Second to prevention, our best defense against Asian Clams is early detection for the greatest chance of eradication. Asian Clams have been established in Lake George since 2010. With such close proximity, and similar biological characteristics, Asian Clams could easily inhabit the waters of the Upper Saranac Watershed.
Late discovery of Asian Clams in Lake George has resulted in expenditures of over $1.5 million in efforts to eradicate them. In the unfortunate circumstance that Asian Clams are introduced to Upper Saranac Lake, we want to find out as soon as possible so we can begin eradication efforts and avoid such costs.