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Photo of Notice to ClammersPhoto of Monomoy SteamersPhoto of Chatham Shellfishing

- "I Dig! Monomoy Clams" Campaign Launched -

The Red Tide is gone but Federal closing of Monomoy to commercial activity is still a possibility.  Chatham received a wake up call to the value of clamming to the economoy of the town with the recent shutdown and lost income in June in Chatham alone was estimated at $1.7 million. "We still need aid for people," said Shannon Eldredge of the Chatham Shellfishermen's Association, who explained that losing a month of earnings can be serious trouble and that people should still donate to the association's relief fund.

In response, MyChatham.com has kicked off a new program to raise funds for the Chatham Shellfishermen's Association, in the face of the possibility that the Monomoy clam flats may be closed to commercial shellfishing, a 5 million dollar industry here in the town of Chatham.  Click below to see our I Dig! product store where 10% of all profits will go directly to the Chatham Shellfishermen's Association.  Show your Chatham pride and give this issue the visibility it deserves.

 

I Dig Monomoy Clams Campaign Banner

'Losing Monomoy and the Southway would be devastating,'' says Chatham Shellfish Warden Stuart Moore.   He estimates 80 percent to 90 percent of the soft-shell clams currently being harvested in Chatham are coming out of those two areas.  ''Soft-shell clams are our biggest crop by far, and the vast majority of people who shellfish in Chatham are digging soft-shell clams right now,'' he said.

Donations can also be made directly to the Chatham Shellfishermen's Association Relief Fund, P. O. Box 485, Chatham, MA 02650.

 

 

- Chatham Shellfish Information -

 

Shellfish information has been adapted from the "Guide to Shellfish in Massachusetts" produced by the Massachusetts Shellfish Officers Association Shellfish Advisory Committee and printed by the Massachusetts Bays Program.

chatham clamming

 

Before harvesting shellfish you should read all the local Town's Shellfish Regulations. Towns generally require permits to harvest shellfish. Your local Shellfish Constable can give you further information.
Some areas may be closed to shellfishing by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries due to pollution. Shellfish obtained from these areas are unfit for human consumption. Many areas are conditionally open which means that they are closed after major rain storms due to polluted runoff.

 

OCEAN QUAHOG

Artica islandica / Black clam

Ocean quahogs are similar to a quahog but usually found in deeper water.

 

QUAHOG

Mercenaria mercenaria / hard clam, round clam

 

Quahogs are found just below the sand or mud surface between high and low tide and beyond in sheltered waters. Harvest quahogs by hand or rake.

A quahog that fits through a 1 inch gauge for the shell thickness or hinge width is seed and below legal harvest size and should not be taken. A one inch thick to 2 1/2 inch long quahog is known as a littleneck, a 2 1/2 to 3 inch quahog is a cherrystone and a 3 inch or larger quahog is a chowder. The chowders are often used to make chowder, clam pie or fritters.

 

 

 

 

RAZOR CLAM

Ensis directus / Razorfish, Razorback, Jacknife clam

The razor clam has a versatile digging foot and a streamlined, straight razor shape that makes it the most elusive of the shellfish to dig. Look for the razor clam near the low water mark in sand or mud. dig in the same manner as for soft shelled clams, but deeper and faster. Razors are served in chowder.

 

SEA CLAM

Spisula solidissima

Surf clam, Bar clam, Hen clam, Skimmer

The sea clam is the largest clam, reaching 5-9 inches in size. Look for sea clams on exposed flats at low tide, just beneath the surface. Check town regulations for harvest limits. Sea clams are gathered with a quahog rake or by hand. Serve in clam pie or chowder.

 

 

SOFT SHELL CLAM

Mya arenaria / Steamer, Longneck, Long clam

Found between the tide lines or just below the low water mark, the soft shelled clam is 4-12 inches below the surfac. Dig soft shell clams cautiously to avoid spearing their fragile shells. Clams under two inches in length must be carefully replanted neck upright and covered with a thin layer of sand to protect them from exposure. Too much sand will smother the clam. Clams can be served steamed, fried or in a stew.

 

 

BLUE MUSSEL

Mytilus edulis

The dark bue shelled mussel grows in clumps on rocks, pilings and flats with each mussel anchored by tiny threads. Mussels are gathered by hand or rake. Scrub thoroughly to remove threads and external mud. Mussels are easily opened by steaming. Serve steamed or stuffed.

 

 

RIBBED MUSSEL

Geukensia demissa

Although perhaps less desirable than the Blue mussel, the Ribbed mussel is edible and found in local estuaries.

 

 

OYSTER

Crassostrea virginica

Oysters are found on hard, sandy bottom or on rocks and piers. Harvest with quahog or box rake. Legal harvest size is 3 inches. Serve on the half-shell or in stew.

 

BAY SCALLOP

Argopecten irradiens / Cape Scallop

Scallops live only about two years and can reproduce only in their second year. To allow for propagation of the next generation, only second year scallops with well defined raised growth line may be legally harvested.

Scallops are found on the bottom in protected bays and shallow flats, often in eelgrass beds. Boots, waders or a small boat are needed for scalloping as well as a dip net. Serve raw, fried, broiled, escalloped or in a stew.

 

 

SEA SCALLOP

Placopecten magellanicus

Although larger in size than the bay scallop, the sea scallop is very popular with consumers. Sea scallops are usually found in deeper water and are not usually harvested by the recreational fisherman. They can be used interchangeably with bay scallops in all dishes.

 

 

Blue Crab

Callinectes sapidus / Blue claw crab

You will find the blue crab on the muddy shore of tidal streams and estuaries. By state regulation, blue crabs must be 4 1/8 inches point-to-point across the body before they are mature enough to harvest. A dip net is used to harvest blue crabs. Crabs may be boiled and used in salads and crab cakes.

 

 

Sand Crab

Ovalipes ocellatus / Lady crab, Calico crab

A dip net is used to harvest Sand crabs. There is a daily catch limit of 50 edible crabs.

 

 

For Updated Shellfishing Information and Regulations Visit the Chatham Shellfish Department.

Town of Chatham
Shellfish Officer
Town Offices, 549 Main Street
Chatham, MA 02633
PHONE: (508) 945-2331

E-MAIL: Not available from the town of Chatham.

Web Site:  http://www.town.chatham.ma.us/

CONTACT: Stewart Moore, Shellfish Officer

HOURS: 8:30-3:30 Monday-Friday
Massachusetts General Laws requires coastal communities to have Shellfish Constables who are trained and experienced in shellfish management. Public safety is important when consuming the live perishable product. The Shellfish Department is responsible for managing shellfish resources with the town including recommendations for regulation, propagation, and enforcement of town and state regulations pertaining to shellfish. The Shellfish Department is involved in water quality issues to protect shellfish resources.

KEYWORDS: Aquaculture, Chatham, Health, Lobster Fisheries, Ports And Harbors, Recreational Fisheries, Red Tide, Regulatory Enforcement and Information, Seafood, Shellfisheries, Water Quality, Water Pollution, Wetlands

 

About Monomoy Island

This 8-mile long spit of sand extending southwest from the Chatham mainland is one of the best reasons to visit thus here on the elbow of Cape Cod.  Once owned by Chatham property owners it was taken over by the government just prior to World War 2.


Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1944 to provide habitat for migratory birds. Sand stretches for eight miles off the elbow of Cape Cod, forming the barrier islands of North and South Monomoy. In addition to the two islands, a 40-acre unit on Morris Island is also part of the refuge. This is where the headquarters and visitor center are located. The total size of the refuge is 7,604 acres with varied habitats of oceans, salt and freshwater marshes, dunes, and freshwater ponds. The refuge provides important resting, nesting and feeding habitat for migratory birds, including the Federally protected piping plover and roseate tern. More than ten species of seabirds, shorebirds, and waterbirds nest on the islands. The refuge also supports the second largest nesting colony of common terns on the Atlantic seaboard with over 8,000 nesting pairs.


Despite its remoteness Monomoy was home to its own community as early as 1710. A tavern for sailors was opened up in the location of today's Hospital Pond, known then as Wreck Cove.

Monomoy Point Light Photo

During the early 1800's a deep natural harbor at Monomoy's inner shore, known as the Powder Hole, attracted a sizeable fishing settlement. In its prime Whitewash Village housed about 200 residents, a tavern inn called Monomoit House, and Public School #13, which at one time boasted 16 students. Cod and mackerel brought in to the Monomoy port were dried and packed for markets in Boston and New York. Lobsters were also plentiful, providing both food and income for the villagers, who peddled them to mainlanders at about two cents apiece.

The village was abandoned after its harbor was washed away by a hurricane around 1860. Since a storm in 1958 Monomoy is only accessible by boat and was designated in 1970 a Federal Wildlife, serving as an important stop on the migratory routes of 285 species of birds.

Monomoy has no human residents, no electricity, no paved roads-- Today the only reminder of Monomoy's habitation is the Monomoy Point Light, which guided from 1828 to 1923. The wooden lightkeepers quarters, the cast iron light tower, and the brick generator house are alone on the desolate point of the South Island.

Monomoy Seal Colony Photo

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More About Monomoy

 

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Getting There By Car. .
Monomoy Island is only reachable by boat but you can drive to to the refuge headquarters and visitor center on Morris Island. Take U.S. Route 6 east to State Route 137 south to State Route 28. Take Route 28 east to the rotary in the center of Chatham. From the rotary take Main Street, up the hill to a T-intersection. Turn right and proceed past the Chatham Lighthouse and Coast Guard Station. Bear left after the lighthouse onto Morris Island Road, then take the first right. Follow Morris Island Road to signs for the refuge on the left.

Monomoy Wildlife Refuge

Morris Island Headquarters >

 

Visit the National Park Service's inventory of Mononomoy Point Lighthouse.

Monomoy Point LighthouseMonomoy Point Light>

 

This Chatham tote bag with fish and flag design is available exclusively in our secure online store!

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Download the Monomoy brochure

Monomoy Island

Download the Monomoy bird information.

 Monomoy Birding

Download the Morris Island Trail Map.

Monomoy Island


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Read the first two chapters of Joseph C. Lincoln's 1924 Rugged Water, about the Chatham Lifesaving Service.

Monomoy Chatham

Joseph C. Lincoln>

 

 

 

 

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