ISO Deepwater clams

Al and Michael wait until we are in position before dropping the dredge overboard

Al, Maddie, and Michael accompanied Captain Thorleif today in search of deepwater clams.  Winds were low and weather was good.  We left base camp before noon with a few spots in mind headed toward the northeast.  Thorleif is the true expert when it comes to these waters and we must follow his guidance.  Thorleif and others have brought up clam shells caught in their gear in the past.  His life-long experience makes him wiser about bottom type and depths in the area – just the kind of information we need and can’t necessarily find on a map. Furthermore, he is just as eager to find the clams as we are – it is a bit of a hunt and a challenge for him!

By 12:30pm we had the first dredge pull at about 30 fathoms. Fishermen here, and in many other parts of the world including the Gulf of Maine, only work in fathoms. One fathom is 6 feet or about 1.8 meters. Our target depth for collecting material is 200 meters, but Tholeif suggested we try some shallower sites first. After about 4 hours, we had dredged 5 times in all (actually, the 3rd dredge got stuck right away so it doesn’t really count). Each time we pulled up the dredge we only brought in a handful of material, mostly stones and empty shells, a few of them Arctica islandica. The video below shows the dredge being brought up.

Lots of discussion took place on board and a plan was laid out for tomorrow. We’ve enlisted the help of Captain Erlend and his boat for a “divide and conquer” strategy. We have two large dredges, one for each boat, so we will be able to try many different spots. Additionally, we will be heading out a little earlier in the morning to take advantage of the slack tide. Captain Thorleif suspected that some of our trouble today may have been the outgoing tide interfering with our dredge, preventing us from achieving a steady drag along the bottom. We have two more days to find live material at depth – our hopes are still high!

Unfortunately, Al’s clam dance didn’t bring us any luck.

Al and Michael wait until we are in position before dropping the dredge overboard
Al and Michael wait until we are in position before dropping the dredge overboard
The dredge is tied to the deck of the boat
The dredge is tied to the deck of the boat
Morning discussion about sampling strategy with Captain Thorleif
Morning discussion about sampling strategy with Captain Thorleif
Calmer waters today
Calmer waters today
Al, Michael, and Thorleif sort through our meager catch
Al, Michael, and Thorleif sort through our meager catch

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