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Proliferation of spat is good news for state

March 4, 2011

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David Prescott (right) South County Coastkeeper and Rob Hudson (Restoration Ecologist) for Save The Bay presented the increases in Pt. Judith's scallop population.

NARRAGANSETT–The Harbor Management committee met to discuss an impending public meeting with CRMC on March 14 regarding aquaculture permits in Pt. Judith Pond.

But the main agenda item was to listen to a presentation from Save The Bay regarding a scallop restoration program in Pt. Judith Pond the non-profit has worked on since 2007.

Robbie Hudson, a restoration ecologist, and Dave Prescott, a coastkeeper with the program's South County office, both spoke during a powerpoint presentation that detailed the proliferation of "spat," which are young scallops half a millimeter in size. The objective of the program is to understand whether techniques used in salt ponds such as Ninigret could be successful in Narragansett Bay.

"We never have seen so much spat in the wild," Prescott said. "They are attached to oysters, eel grass, quahogs, algae, and any type of shells to get away from predators."

Historically, scallops grew naturally throughout the Bay and the region's ponds with a life span of approximately two years. The small bivalves would attach themselves to eel grass and would often find themselves boiling in a Swamp Yankee stewpot. But habitat destruction, the disappearance of eel grass, invasive species, and pollution diminished the scallop population. Another culprit in their disappearance were the "brown tides," algae blooms that began in the 1980s. The blooms turn water an opaque brown and while it is harmless to humans it can be destructive to organisms in the water.

For more information pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.

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