Cockeysville Middle School students Abby Audlin and Olivia North were published in The Daily Times. Their article “Caring for Clams” was a class project at Cockeysville. Read the published article below.
Caring for Clams
Our clams need help. Oil pollution from boats and drains are contaminating our waterways more and more every day. Discharges of sewage from boats are a strong concern for water quality. They release bacteria and pathogens into the water that harm the aquatic life. If these levels of pollution continue, different species will die out or no longer be able to befound in our coastal bays. Runoff from agricultural operations andleaking septic systems are big contributors to the high levels of bacteria in the Assawoman Bay and watershed. If these species are lost, this will not only impact the human resources but also the natural environment like food chains and the water quality. Organisms like clams are in high demand for food source but they are also important to the environment because they help filter the water.
In Maryland these little critters are found mostly in the Atlantic coastal bays, in which they prefer to be in the higher salinity waters. The average adult clam can grow up to 125 mm and can live up to 40 years. Our hard shell clam population has only existed since the 1930’s but has already started decreasing. Recently the hard shell clam population has hit an all time low. All living organisms and their habitats are intimately connected with the water quality, which causes them to respond to the changes in the water and habitats. Different types of shellfish and organisms have disappeared from the bays due to parasites, bacteria, and diseases caused by recent pollution.
You can help
There are many ways that we can help restore the clam population and repair the bays. Litter is one of the largest pollutants to our waterways. Don’t place litter into the storm drains, which is an easy way that it can travel to the bays. We want to minimize the amount of litter thrown into the streets and waterways. The other big pollutant is oil. Oil from cars on the streets can run off into the water and oil from boats damages the water environment. If you care for and maintain your boat, it prevents oil pollution. Another good solution is to reduce boat traffic as much as possible. The more boats in our waterways, the more oil is being put into the water and harming the environment. Lastly do not use harmful chemicals on bulkheads or piers. These can kill the marine life.
Life without clams
We all take the things we have for granted. This tiny little sea creature can control not only the ecosystem, but also our economy. Clams impact the lives of many marine animals such as fish, shore birds, starfish, otters, and many sea mammals. Many people in towns such as Ocean City use clams as a food source, leisure time activity, and a source of income Next time you think about throwing that little candy onto the street or skipping your monthly boat maintenance checkup, think not only about yourself but how that one decision could be a building block to external destruction of the species of clams.