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DEM SCIENTISTS INVESTIGATE WHAT CAUSED THOUSANDS OF CLAMS TO WASH ASHORE ON GODDARD PARK BEACH ON SUNDAY

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management is actively investigating why thousands of juvenile soft-shell clams washed ashore yesterday in Greenwich Bay along the beachfront at Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick.

In order to pinpoint the reason for the clam wash-up, the Department is continuing to look at several possible biological and physical causes. DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife staff have been on-scene today and are conducting an initial assessment of the situation. This afternoon, DEM staff observed a foot-wide slick of live clams ranging from about one-quarter to three-quarters of an inch long on the beach, extending from the end of Long Point to Sally Rock.

Initial findings indicate that the event is not due to the same anoxic (no oxygen) conditions in Greenwich Bay that caused last summer's massive fish kill. The waters of Greenwich Bay, as well as the rest of Narragansett Bay, are typically well oxygenated throughout the winter months due to the cold and windy weather. An oxygen reading taken this morning by DEM at Goddard Park beach revealed normal oxygen levels.

Unlike last summer's fish kill, Sunday's clam wash-up may be an isolated event. DEM is continuing to explore several possible causes including disease, ice effects, and over-population. The combination of strong winds, Moon low tides, and cold water temperatures may have contributed to the event.

The Department will continue to investigate possible causes for the clam wash-up, and will take samples of the clams for further testing and conduct additional oxygen readings on Tuesday.

Related links

Department or agency: Department of Environmental Management

Online: http://www.dem.ri.gov/

Release date: 03-08-2004

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