Nantucket’s Natural Resources Department has been studying the behavior and habitat of clams for sometime, while also re-seeding harbors and working to replenish populations. Nationally, however, clams play an essential role in bioresearch and are even used for preventative cancer studies.
HISTORY AND TRADITION
Man has been clamming long before recorded history – in fact, even before the development of clam rakes and forks, people would simply dig with fingers and toes into the sand for this delicious (and easy to find) shellfish. Although there are over 12,000 different species of clams found around the world, the scientific name for the hard shell clam in our waters is called Mercenaria mercenaria, and is popular for chowders, steaming or frying, and even delicious served raw on the half shell.
Clams prefer to live in areas of calm, lapping water (think harbor areas like Monomoy, Pocomo or Madaket) and can be typically found in soft sand, just at the foot of eelgrass patches.
It could be said that clams are the chicken of the sea – the possibilities are endless on how to prepare them so it is really dependent upon your own appetite and preference. Purists simply eat these raw or pop them on a hot grill until they open, but the best way to prepare clams is to do it in your own personal favorite way.