Skip to content

A Local Treasure: The Clam at Home

Salt marsh
Salt marsh with skiffs, Newbury, Massachusetts, between 1900 and 1915.

 In Massachusetts, an ecosystem called the Great Marsh makes up a large part of the intertidal zone. The Great Marsh is 20,000 acres of nutrient-rich salt marshes, estuaries, tidal rivers, barrier beaches, and mud flats extending from Gloucester to Salisbury.








Dave Sargent“[Shellfishing today] is also an environmental monitor. Because it’s in the intertidal zone, and it’s harvested by people who bring it back, people can see the health of that intertidal zone. And the health of that intertidal zone is closely correlated with the health of the marsh lands. Our salt marshes in the Great Marsh are home to two thirds of the fish and shellfish that are in the ocean. Without the salt marshes and the health of the intertidal zone, life in the ocean as we know it will not exist. So, on a regulatory level, it’s really important to protect land containing shellfish, or shellfish habitat, as well as to try to promote branding Massachusetts shellfish as being a safe and healthy food product.”- Dave Sargent 

Listen to the full audio clip.

Joseph Carlin 

“Yes, this is what I have heard: The uniqueness of the Ipswich clam and the Essex Bay clam; clams grow best in estuaries that have an extreme tidal flow at the proper salinity. And those unique conditions exist right at the end of the Ipswich River and the Essex River. So clams just grow in abundance, and the taste of them is just magnificent because of that happy coincidence of all these variables. Yes, they grow good clams up in Maine, and when we’re short of that they dig them out of the mud and ship them down to us.  But a lot of people just swear by the wonderful salty brininess, taste-of-the-sea of the Essex County clam.” - Joseph Carlin

Listen to full audio clip.


A Local Treasure: The Clam at Home