Life of a Sapelo Sea Farms clam begins when seed, about the size of a field pea (4mm), are obtained from a hatchery. These “nursery seed” are planted in mesh bags on mudflats where the tides continually nourish the seed as they grow for 4 to 6 months.
Once they reach the “growout” stage of 10mm, they are pulled and transferred into larger mesh bags then returned to the mudflats to continue to grow for approximately 18 more months. They are harvested when ordered and sold based on size.
Sapelo Sea Farms began in 1997 when The University of Georgia Marine Extension Service funded 750,000 growout seed through a grant as part of a program to begin an aquaculture program on the coast of Georgia. Clam seed are planted on shellfish leases in the waters around Sapelo Island. Currently, there are less than a dozen shellfish leases in Georgia. Sapelo Sea Farms holds five of the leases; growing clams on two of them and harvesting wild oysters from all five. Sapelo Sea Farms produces the vast majority of clams in Georgia and continually seeks new species for aquaculture opportunities.