Each August, for the past seven years, volunteers have been surveying the Upper Saranac Lake 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.
This year’s survey is dedicated to, and in memory of, Leslie Moquin. Leslie was one of our Asian Clam Survey volunteers who unfortunately passed this past January. Leslie was a native to the area with strong ties to the wilderness as an avid hiker, skier, and paddler. She was a true nature girl who loved to camp, kayak, fish, and hike, while expertly identifying plants and birds along the way.
The good news: There are no known infestations of Asian Clam in the Upper Saranac Lake Watershed.
Second to prevention, our best defense against Asian Clams is early detection for the greatest chance of eradication. Left unchecked, Asian Clams can reproduce exponentially and cause negative ecological impacts including algae blooms. Concentrations of Asian Clams have the potential to negatively impact the tourism economy, reduce property values, and hamper recreational activities. Asian Clams have been established in Lake George since 2010. With such close proximity, and its biological characteristics, Asian Clams could easily inhabit the waters of Upper Saranac Lake.
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.
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 a boat that holds 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.
The Upper Saranac Foundation thanks all the volunteers who participated in this survey effort; it’s critical to help ensure identification and potential management of this invasive.