We’ve been here almost two months, stopped at Southern Cross Seafood many times for clams and just today decided to take a tour of their clam raising operation. Two of our neighbors here in the RV park took the tour the other day and raved about it.
Now we are going to rave. There is a young man named Scott who is the world champion clam grower and is obviously passionate about this food source. There at Southern Cross they do everything from beginning to end. It was the quickest hour I’ve experienced in a long time—very interesting!
It was just the two of us on the tour and Scott was delightful. Because there were no children around he jokingly said, “we can talk about sex.”
Here is the table where the boy clams and the girl clams get together:
The clams are tricked into believing the season has changed and it’s time for breeding by slow introduction of hot/cold water. Once the clams have bred they are a living shelled clam within 24 hours!!! He took some from a tank and placed them on a microscope slide allowing us to view the little creatures swimming around!Looks like grains of sand.
The little clams swim around in various tanks eating a ton of food literally which is grown right there. Scott said it is impossible to produce enough food for these clams—as the clams get older by the day the more they eat. The 750 gallon tanks of food only last a day. When the clams are two months old they are placed in clam bags and taken 3 miles off the coast to the leased from the state of Florida clam beds and left there for two years. The clams in the short time they are held there in the laboratory eat food that is totally grown in a lab—plant based, no protein. When out in the ocean in the clam beds the clams are eating what any clam in the ocean would eat.
This process was started 13 years ago and has been wildly successful—if you are eating clams chances are they came from Cedar Key—87% of clams eaten in the US come from Cedar Key. It is a renewable, sustainable food source and besides that the suckers taste great!
Clam bags which are spread out and driven over for several days to help remove the barnacles and plant life which formed in the two years they were out in the ocean. Each bag costs $8 so Southern Cross likes to re-use.
Scott also told us about an operation he is involved with in the Dominic Republic raising tilapia. Did you know tilapia eat anything BUT protein?? Another sustainable, renewable healthy resource!
A wonderful way to spend a hour on a rainy Florida day!
I apologize for the upper photos, I had a huge smudge on my camera lens and didn’t realize it until after all those photos were taken.
Guess what we are having for dinner tonight—yep, clams.