Does Current Shellfish Culture Gear Curb ‘Crunching’ Rays?

According to NOAA Fisheries, more than 80 percent of marine aquaculture production in the United States consists of bivalve mollusks such as oysters, clams and mussels. However, it’s not just humans who enjoy eating these shellfish, so do marine rays. They like to “crunch” on clams, which can sometimes take a big bite out of clammers’ profits.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in collaboration with Mote Marine Laboratory, assessed the ability of the whitespotted eagle ray to interact with clams housed within a variety anti-predator materials.

“Based on our findings, many of the current anti-predator grow-out strategies used in the hard clam shellfish aquaculture industry appear capable of reducing predation by large predators like whitespotted eagle rays,” said Matt Ajemian, Ph.D., “In particular, bag treatments with cover nettings achieved the highest clam survival rates, although it is important to note that this did not appear to completely deter rays from interacting with the gear.”

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