Monday, July 30, 2012

Young Clams and Young Bostonians!

Hello all!

This past Wednesday, Ana, Anthony, Brianna, and I headed out to Thompson Island to seed clam beds. Now, the last time I wrote, I talked about all the things I was doing for the first time this summer, even though it's my third summer with our youth programs. Well, our day out on Thompson Island definitely added to the list!

First and foremost, I'd NEVER been out to Thompson Island, so I was really excited to see what the island had to offer. Each island out in Boston Harbor has it's own identity, whether its the spooky tunnels of Georges or the gorgeous beach glass of Spectacle or the menacing and ominous cone-shaped marking atop Nix's Mate. I've been so fascinated to learn about each one in my time here at Save the Harbor. Thompson Island is additionally fascinating because it isn't typically publicly accessible, so we were granted a behind-the-scenes look at the many uses and beautiful resources of the island! Home to a former trade school, a current youth development camp, organic gardens, native american historic preservation efforts, and an effort to rebuild the Harbor's clam population, it was great!

Now you might be wondering: How the heck do you "seed" and "clam bed"? Honestly, I was wondering the same thing. It was another first for me! We "planted" thousands of juvenile clams -- smaller than the size of a dime-- in the native salt marshes of the island. Here's how...

Step 1: We laid down a net on the muddy beach to mark our clam bed area. Baby clams would soon make the area their home!

Step 2: We dug a deep trench around the net. Here's Ana, showing us how!

Step 3: We removed the net and raked the top layer of sand and mud. We wanted to disturb any green crabs-- which are natural predators of clams-- in the area and capture them.

Step 4: Once as many green crabs as possible were eradicated from the plot, we scattered some young clams! We put about 6,000 in each plot.

Step 5: We replaced the net. We filled mud back into the trenches, securing the edges of the netting. We wanted to make sure the net was secured so that it would stay put at high tide when it was entirely submerged. Our team did a great job, and I really liked meeting the high school Thompson Island Green Ambassadors on my team!

Here's Anthony with the finished product!

My favorite part of the entire experience was getting to work literally alongside so many other great organizations that are serving youth on Boston Harbor. The day before, I had been given the opportunity to attend a Boston Harbor Island Alliance meeting and briefly present to the board and several other community organizations about how Save the Harbor's summer programs with be connecting 7,000 kids and teens to the Harbor Islands this summer. But I also got to listen to what other groups around the Harbor were doing around the Harbor, regardless of whether they were focusing on children, teens, families, conservation, public education, youth development, or recreation. And it was fantastic to see so many familiar faces on Thompson Island the next day.

As Arthur Pearson, CEO of Thompson Island Outward Bound, said to me on the island: it was so great to see the sum of all the work that we're all doing for kids on the Harbor, all in one place. One group is serving 5,000 kids this summer, another is working with 3,000, another will connect 6,000 new people to the water, another group is serving hundreds of local teenagers, etc, etc, etc.... and Save the Harbor will bring 7,000 kids and teens out to the islands and will work with thousands more at our youth environmental education sites and on our region's public beaches this year. All those numbers really add up! I love the work I do, but I'm even MORE excited to see it in an even larger context of so many common goals across these organizations. It was an inspiring day!

Thank you so much to Thompson Island Outward Bound for hosting us, and to Chris at the Department of Marine Fisheries for showing us the clam-seeding ropes! We can't wait to help again next year!

See you out on the islands, everyone!

Michelle Palermino

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