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Old Fashioned Fun: Clamming in Branford

Area residents, both old and young, came together this past weekend for the first-ever public clam dig sponsored by the East Shore District Health Department and the Branford Shellfish Commission.

Whether you twist and shimmy, use a rake or dive in headfirst, clamming is an experience every area resident should try at least once.

The East Shore District Health Department held a public clam dig this past Saturday on Limewood Beach (which is open to clammers) to educate area residents about the local shellfish and of course to show them how to clam. The clam dig was originally scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend but postponed on request of some neighbors. Community Mediation out of New Haven was able to help ESDHD and the neighborhood for the event.

ESDHD Sanitarian Lori Romick led small groups of clammers out into the waist-deep low tide of Long Island Sound and demonstrated how to use her feet to find clams. Clammers followed her lead, twisting and wiggling until someone in the distance whooped, having found a clam. After cheering for the fellow clammer, it was back to work hunting for the

The Branford Shellfish Commission, who was in attendance, made an in-kind donation of thousands of clams and seeded the beds for this season and future generations, said Michael Pascucilla of ESDHD.

The clam dig was made possible through a grant secured by ESDHD from the Department of Aquaculture. The $42,000, one-year-grant, will allow ESDHD to promote local shellfishing education here in Branford and East Haven. The grant also allows the ESDHD, in conjunction with Yale University, to run water quality monitoring tests to identify any sources of water contamination in the two towns.

Lauren Brooks who works for both ESDHD and Yale University, runs weekly water tests looking for the sources of contamination in shellfish beds. According to Pascucilla, the tests she is conducting, which involves collecting high-level DNA samples, will not yield results for at least another month (Brooks is also responsible for for the ESDHD but that collection is not part of the grant).

In addition to making sure Branford’s beds are well stocked with clams, the grant, according to Pascucilla, is aiming to re-open closed recreational shellfishing beds in East Haven.

Pascucilla said the water testing that Brooks is conducting will allow the ESDHD to analyze bacteria samples and find out if contamination of shellfish beds comes from animals or humans. Once a source or type of bacteria is identified, Pascucilla explained that ESDHD can work with Branford to develop policy to address the contamination source be it geese, pet feces, nearby farms or rainwater run off.

While ESDHD does an in-depth survey of the waters, it’s important to note that the shellfish beds are open and safe to use. If there is more than two-inches of rain, the Shellfish Commission will close the recreational beds in Branford. To learn more about the beds and rules visit the commissions website or call 203-315-3909 before you head out to clam.

In order to clam, all residents and non residents must have licenses, which you can obtain at the ’s office or at . Licenses are $5 for residents, for the season. Non-residents pay $10 a day or $50 per season. All seniors, 65 years and up are free.

The clam dig was two hours of old fashioned fun where participants had a chance to learn about a local source of food, compete for prizes by finding hidden clams, and dine for free on local fare provided by Thimble Island Lobsterbakes

If you are interested in clamming on Limewood beach, please note there is a right of way across from Waverly Park Road for water access but the beaches are private; parking in the area is limited.

*Branford Patch shot video of the clam dig but was unable to get the files off the memory card. Sorry to all those who took the time to chat with us on camera!

Bizzyasab July 27, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Awww, the old neighborhood,how I miss everyone there. We use to clam, and we use to have lobster pots, in the good ole days.
SolarPete July 27, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Boy miss doing that all I can say is Yummmmm

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