Perspectives of Life – past and present – on Point Judith Pond


Rhode Island author, Prentice Stout, will present perspectives of life – past and present – on Point Judith Pond. Join him on Wednesday, March 9th at the Kettle Pond Visitors Center in Charlestown, from 5:30PM-7:00PM. Refreshments will be served – Please rsvp to or 401-874-6197.

Prentice has devoted his entire career to teaching, filming and writing about nature. His travels have taken him and wife, Patty, from Antarctica to the Galapagos. However, his real love of place has always been Point Judith Pond, a spot he calls “A Place of Quiet Waters” which also serves as the title for his 2006 book. Prentice has served as an enthusiastic educator at Camp Fuller and greatly enjoys seeing young adults learn and thrive as they come to deeply understand the pond’s many assets and ecosystem.

Part of Rhode Island’s Coastal Salt Ponds and You: A Public Education Series.

Toxic Algae and Oyster Disease in Narragansett Bay Presentation on March 26th

Coastal State Discussion Series: Toxic Algae and Oyster Disease in Narragansett Bay

Rhode Island researchers discuss impacts of emerging algal species and marine disease that may impact the state’s seafood and water resources.

Two potential threats have emerged in Narragansett Bay waters that raise concern for both the health of Rhode Island waters and the overall state of the seafood industry.

Researchers David Borkman, marine plankton expert at the University of Rhode Island (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography, and Roxanna Smolowitz, shellfish and fish disease expert at Roger Williams University, will discuss findings of a new harmful algae species and an oyster parasite in the second event of the Coastal State Discussion Series on Wednesday, March 26, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the University Club on URI’s Kingston campus.

Borkman has been studying marine plankton in Narragansett Bay for several decades and has found a new species of algae in R.I. waters, the third observation of this species on the East Coast and the first in New England. He will discuss his findings and studies of this highly toxic species and what its presence may mean for the health of the Bay.

Smolowitz will discuss her work that looks at the transmission and impact of a new parasitic disease in the eastern oyster. This parasite has been linked to the death of oysters in Martha’s Vineyard, and its presence in Rhode Island shows a potential for significant infection of eastern oyster farms, impacting the state’s $2 million oyster industry.

This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so please contact Meredith Haas at to reserve a place or for more information. The University Club is located on Upper College Road on URI’s Kingston Campus.

The Coastal State series is sponsored by Rhode Island Sea Grant and the URI Coastal Institute with the support of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography and the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences. This lecture is also supported by the Rhode lsland Shellfish Management Plan.

Rhode Island Sea Grant is located at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography. For more information, visit

Paul Kennedy: Clamming Important Part of Ocean State Life

Paul Kennedy lead our first Clamming 101 class on Point Judith Pond.

Our “Clamming 101” instructor, Paul Kennedy, writes about the lure of digging for clams in ecoRI’s Opinions, tying his personal experiences into Rhode Island’s shellfishing legacy.

From Paul’s editorial:

…recreational shellfishing has become a thread in Rhode Island’s historical fabric. It’s a part of our Ocean State heritage that can and must be protected and supported.

Done correctly, recreational shellfishing can be a boon to our tourism-dependent economy. The resource must be protected and awareness of its potential benefits must be heightened. I am happy to report that work on this has already begun.


Paul Kennedy lead our first Clamming 101 class on Point Judith Pond.

Paul Kennedy lead our first Clamming 101 class on Point Judith Pond.

SMP Summer Updates

Azure_August 2nd

On behalf of the Shellfish Management Plan Team, we hope you’ve been enjoying the summer and are having fun in this hot weather! It’s been a few months since our last SMP Stakeholder meeting in May, but we’ve been busy here preparing the SMP Chapters, hosting “How to Dig Clams” events, and having productive dialogues with many of you about how to maintain the tremendous momentum and interest in shellfish resources. We wanted to share the latest SMP news with you, so please check out the Summer 2013 SMP Updates.

Additionally, read our recent newsletter here.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or comments, email the SMP Team at

Azure_August 2nd

Project leader Azure Cygler, right, discusses the SMP with SMP supporters in East Greenwich.

RI clams: some are Notata and some are not

notata clam 1

Dale Leavitt

By Dale Leavitt
Associate Professor & Aquaculture Extension Specialist
Roger Williams University

Question: What’s up with the markings on some RI clams?

The normal “white” quahog that we usually see in the bay are referred to (in science speak) as the “alba” variety. Those with a reddish-brown pattern on their shell are referred to as “notata” variety. Both are normal, native clams that can be found naturally in RI waters. The only difference is that one has a different shell color than the other. It is a simple, natural single locus variation in the genetics of the clam.

Above, a Notata clam with its distinctivereddish-brown markings. Photo by Melissa Devine

Above, a notata clam with its distinctive reddish-brown markings. Photo by Melissa Devine

Normally, the natural population of wild “notata” clams (the ones with the reddish-brown zig-zag pattern on their shell) occur at about 1-2% in the wild. When we breed clams for enhancement, we increase the percentage of those clams by simply crossing notata clams with notata clams. In the wild this does not happen often, for the density of wild notata’s is so low. When we do it in the hatchery, the number of notata clams is about 75% of the total. So when we raise and release clams for enhancement, we can track our clams by counting how many notatas there are in the catch. Anything over 2% means that we are having success with our plantings. For example, the Shellfishermen’s Association planted about 500,000 notata clams in Green’s River (Potowomut) in (about) 2004. When the area opened for fishing three years later, the catch was about 25-30% notata’s, suggesting that our enhancement program was working well.

A large number of the clams that were caught in Galilee during the July 23rd Clamming Class were notatas and they were harvested from an area where the Rhode Island Shellfishermen’s Association have been planting enhancement clams for the past three or four years. So, again, the enhancement program is working. In this case, the fishermen are planting the nursery reared clams there specifically to help out the recreational harvest for the tourists and state residents.

The catch from our July 23rd Clamming Class--A notata clam with alba clams, and a crab for good measure.

The catch from our July 23rd Clamming Class–a few notata clams can be seen alongside the predominant alba clam. Photo by Melissa Devine

RISMP Seminar Series: Clamming Classes

clamming 101

Participants dig for clams during the RISMP’s first Clamming 101 Class on Point Judith Pond. Photo by Melissa Devine.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our first Clamming 101 class on July 23rd at Point Judith Pond!

Pictures from the event are up on the Rhode Island Sea Grant Facebook Page. Check them out! For more images, visit our SMP Flickr Album, or see the Providence Journal’s photo gallery from photographer Frieda Squires.

Following the first class, our very own Azure Cygler went on the Rhode Show to talk about Clamming 101 and the Shellfish Management Plan. You can watch the interview on the WPRI website here.

Our next two events are scheduled for August 16th, and August 22nd. Unfortunately, both have filled up, but stay tuned–we’ll host one more shore-digging clamming class in September, and a tour of the Matunuck Oyster Farm is coming up soon.

For more information about events, contact the SMP Team at or call 401-874-6106.

Following up: Use Conflicts in Narragansett Bay

This article is a follow-up to the May 15th SMP Stakeholder Meeting Presentation:
Room Enough for Everyone? Understanding Human Uses & Interactions in RI Coastal Waters
Tracey Dalton (Associate Professor, URI Marine Affairs)
Robert Thompson (Associate Professor & Chair, URI Marine Affairs)
Download the presentation (pdf).
View the presentation on Slideshare.

By Tracey Dalton

Thanks for giving us an opportunity to talk about human uses and interactions at the SMP stakeholder meeting in May.  We hope that our presentation provided some insights and generated more discussion on social carrying capacity.  Like social carrying capacity, many of the key issues raised so far in the SMP process relate to people and how they think and what they do in Rhode Island’s waters.  For those of us who devote a lot of time to studying people who work, live and spend time in coastal areas, this presents a great opportunity to help address important issues right here in RI.  We appreciate this chance to follow-up on your questions.  While we’re trying to keep things brief here, we are willing to talk more about any of these issues—feel free to contact Rob or me directly (see contact information below).

First, there were some follow-up questions on our Bayscape project that mapped human uses in the upper Narragansett Bay.  Rob and I didn’t spend too much time in our talk going over the details of that project, so we wanted to fill you in on it a bit more.  We received some funding from the RI Sea Grant to map human activities in the upper Narragansett Bay (from Conimicut point into the Seekonk River) during the summers of 2006 and 2007.  For that project, Rob, myself, and several undergraduate and graduate students traveled up and down the upper Bay on twenty-five randomly selected days each summer.  With the use of some high-tech equipment, we were able to record all activities going on on-the-water (such as quahogging, shipping, sailing, and many others) and along the shoreline (such as biking or recreational fishing).  We created maps of the activities and analyzed if any particular features (such as weather conditions, availability of parking near access points, days of the week) were influencing what people were doing.  Our study showed that this type of observational approach can provide useful insights about the levels and types of activities going on in an area, but its results are pretty specific to the upper Bay during the time of our study.  That is why we are interested in extending this earlier work to other areas in Rhode Island and applying it to specific management issues, like shellfish planning and management.  Right now, we are writing proposals to conduct some follow-up studies, and we’d be interested in hearing from you about ways to make them as useful as possible.  Feel free to send us an email or give us a call.

Second, there were some questions that related to social science more generally.  It seems that many SMP participants are more familiar with–and probably more comfortable with–the tools of natural science than those of social science.  That isn’t too surprising.  Just think, when you hear “scientist”, you probably conjure up an image of someone wearing  a white lab coat and swirling a test tube or someone trekking through a salt marsh collecting specimens.  Not many of us would think of someone sitting on a dock listening to the observations, stories, and reflections of fishermen.  But what many people don’t realize is that all three of these individuals could be doing science.  Like chemists, ecologists and other natural scientists, social scientists such as anthropologists, economists, and political scientists use systematic methods to collect data and rigorous analytical techniques to make sense of it.  Our data just happen to be on people—how they think, act, and manage their behaviors—rather than on the natural environment.  Luckily for us, there are many well-established social science techniques that we can use to collect and analyze these types of data.

Finally, the question was raised about how social science can be used to inform coastal planning and management.  This is not an easy question to answer.  In fact, there are social scientists and other researchers who specialize in this very topic–trying to understand how to effectively integrate sound science (from natural & social sciences) into resource management decisions.   Most of these researchers agree that science and management should not be thought of as two separate processes, where a study is first conducted by a scientist and then the results are used by decision makers to solve a problem.  Instead, scientists and other participants in the decision making process have to work together throughout the process to shape the science and how it might be used to solve problems.  The good news is that interactions between scientists and SMP participants have been happening throughout the SMP process.  Early discussions of SMP participants identified a number of important issues, including user conflict, social carrying capacity, compliance & enforcement, and agency coordination, that could be better understood through the use of social science tools.  Ideally, social scientists and other SMP participants will continue to interact as projects are developed, data gets collected & analyzed, and findings become part of the broader discussions on RI shellfish planning and management.

Thanks again for this chance to follow-up on our talk.  If you have questions, comments or general feedback, please contact us by email or phone:

Tracey Dalton, URI Department of Marine Affairs, or 401-874-2434
Robert Thompson, URI Department of Marine Affairs, or 401-874-4485

RSVP for Chart Chats–Informing Rhode Island Use Maps Meeting on June 13th

Chart Chats: Informing ‘User Maps’ with Your Activities on the Water

Thursday, June 13th, 2013, 5pm to 7pm
Warwick Public Library, 600 Sandy Lane. Warwick, RI 02889

Click here for Chart Chats Meeting Information in PDF format.

Please join team members of the Rhode Island Shellfish Management Plan (SMP) during the Warwick Public Library’s Second Annual Quahoggers Jamboree. The SMP team will have an informal display of user maps. These maps were created in coordination with stakeholders through a series of public meetings over the past several months with the goal of illustrating the many different uses of our bays and ponds to minimize user conflict. Here’s your chance to view these maps, suggest changes or additions, and guide the next phase of the effort.

WHEN: Thursday, June 13th, 5pm-7pm (Open house–please drop in at any time!)
WHERE: Warwick Public Library, Small Meeting Room
Please RSVP to and include the meeting date.

This meeting coincides with Warwick’s Second Annual Quahoggers Jamboree. The Jamboree, which is also at the Warwick Public Library on Thursday, June 13th, 2013 will run from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. You must register online for this event at

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