The first batch of clams for Bradenton Beach’s living shoreline reached the waters of Sarasota Bay.
Sixty-two bushels of large quahog clams were transported to the city March 2 and placed in the bay on the south side of the Historic Bridge Street Pier as a part of a community redevelopment agency effort to repopulate the waters with clams, which filter many gallons of water every day and help promote growth of seagrasses.
Sarasota Bay Watch president Larry Stults, who helped coordinate the efforts, wrote in a March 1 email that the load contained 37,200 clams, or roughly one-fifth of the 200,000 clams the CRA purchased for $36,000.
Clams are the first stage of the living shoreline project, which CRA members have discussed building on with the addition of oysters and reef balls.
Transportation was led by CRA member Ed Chiles, owner of three local restaurants who volunteered a refrigerated truck to haul the shellfish to the beach from Carter Davis’s Farm Raised Clams in James City on Pine Island.
Chiles Group COO Robert Baugh and his son, Elijah, were enlisted in the effort. The two brought the truckload of clams to the South Coquina Boat Ramp, where the cargo was loaded onto boats and driven to their destination in the water near the base of the city pier.
Clam farmer Aaron Welch III captained a workboat and assisted in seeding the bay bottom with clams, alongside volunteers, including Bradenton Beach Mayor and CRA member John Chappie and Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, who joined the effort.
The next clam delivery is scheduled for Saturday, March 9.
Deliveries will be weekly until all 200,000 clams find their way to Bradenton Beach and the living shoreline at the bottom of Sarasota Bay.
The CRA will meet March 6 at Bradenton Beach city hall, 107 Gulf Drive.