Clams in a jam


Bonnie McCay is at Rutgers University. She says, “I would call myself an environmental or ecological anthropologist in that my work has always been focused on human beings relating to their natural environments. To anthropologists, the world is our oyster.”

To be accurate, Bonnie Mccay’s world…is a surf clam. She studies fishing communities up and down the eastern seaboard from Virginia to Cape Cod. And she’s gotten to know a story that impacts clams and clammers alike, and it’s been building steam for half a century. Have a listen.

Thanks to Tennessee Watson and Sondra Woodward, and to Atlantic Capes Fisheries Inc. Marketing Division for the sound effects of the clamming vessel. Music credit: Portland Clam Chowder by Bernard Purdie.


The Atlantic surf clam.

Clamming has been a livelihood for people for decades.

Sam Martin is the vice president of operations for Atlantic Capes Fisheries in Cape May, NJ, and he's experienced the decline in the clam fishery firsthand.

Clam boats just aren't able to collect clams like they did before.

Bonnie McCay is an anthropologist, and she's spoken to fishermen about the collapsing clam fishery.

Education Standards

National Science Education Standards Grade 9 to 12

Ocean Literacy Principles

Send a Message

Send a message or a question to Bonnie McCay and/or Sam Martin:

Clams in a jam


  1. Esther Modell says:

    Really illuminating. Eating clams will never be the same for me again. Spagetti and clam sauce is definitely on the menu for next week.


  2. COSEE NOW is about to start a series of workshop presentations on sustainable seafood for K-8 students in our MARE program. We are going to use this podcast and the work of the team of scientists working on this research project. Thanks to Bonnie, Sam and Ari for such an interesting presentation.

  3. […] COSEE NOW supported the outreach work with the teachers and students, the production of an Ocean Gazing podcast, and the project […]