Shellfish Lab – Getting Started

Work on the shellfish lab is finally starting! This is a picture of the lab entrance. We want you to know that renovation plans include replacing the pallet with stairs! On January 27, three of us got together inside the lab-to-be to make a list of materials to begin turning what was a clam buying station into a shellfish lab. I took pictures so you could come on inside, take a look, and join us in envisioning what the lab can be.

The “work crew” (we didn’t do a lot of work — mostly just imagined and made lists) was Mike Pinkham (Gouldsboro Shellfish Warden), Jim McLean (Gouldsboro Supervisor of Town Infrastructure). and me.

Exterior of building housing the shellfish lab

Dana Rice donated space inside his lobster buying operation in Bunkers Harbor for the Shellfish Resilience Lab, as described in earlier posts. On the right is a picture of the exterior of the building that will house the lab. The picture was taken from the wharf on the south side of the building. The entrance, shown in the picture at the top of this post, is not visible in this picture; it is at the end of the building opposite the wall with the gambrel roof. The wall that you see behind Dana’s truck is the south wall of the lab. It was a cloudy day, so the light in the picture is flat. Dana’s building is right on the water, so it is a bright, lively place on a sunny day.

The part of the building that we will be using for the lab was once a place where clam harvesters came to sell their harvest and where people from the community could come to buy clams.

Back room with chiller

When this was a clam buying station, the clams needed to be kept cold, on ice. The future lab rooms are already insulated with form board and covered with foil to reflect heat coming from outside walls. This will work well for us but in the opposite direction. The insulation will help us keep the space a bit warmer in the winter, just above freezing.

There are two rooms; both still have chiller units that were used to keep the ice from melting and the clams cold. We will not use the chiller units. Instead, we will install small propane heaters to ensure the rooms don’t get too cold in the winter. The picture on the right is the back room, which is the largest of the two. You can see the smaller front room with the tank Dana retrieved from a lobster dealer in Hancock through the door.

We will nail treated wood sills into the floor along the walls and install floor to ceiling furring strips along the walls, which will enable us to put up wood sheathing we can paint. We like the insulation but would rather not look at it.

On the right is a picture of the big tank in the front room. It measures about 12 feet by 4 feet and will hold 15 inches, or about 450 gallons of water. We will move this tank into the back room, where there is more space. Dana is on the lookout for a second tank that someone might donate. The room is large enough to hold two of them. It will not cost us much more to circulate seawater through two tanks, and having two tanks will give us more capacity to grow seed clams.

Notice the innovative slanting conduit on the front wall. The wall switch for the one overhead light in the room is at the end of the conduit. We guess that someone decided it was cheaper to run the conduit on an angle, missing the big door, than it would be to extend the ceiling conduit and come down vertically. As the old saying goes, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” We will remove all the old wiring and install a new system separate from the rest of the building. Careful monitoring of electricity usage and all other costs associated with growing seed clams will be an important part of our work in the coming year.

It is GREAT to be started on actually BUILDING the shellfish resilience lab. If all goes as planned, there will be a lot of progress over the next months. Once spring comes, we will have new seed clams to set out on the flats and new juvenile clams to begin growing out for the spring of 2022. Check back often or, even better, sign up below for the email news we send out every month or so.

— Bill Zoellick

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