Anna Maria Island – All over coastal Florida the Sunray Venus Clam is gaining recognition as a sustainable, and delicious new addition to the state aquaculture market, and Anna Maria Island has hopped on this new trend.
The Sunray Venus Clam has a softer shell than most farmed clams making it a little pricier on the current market. These Clams have a sweet briny conch like taste, and a large tender meaty foot. When frozen fresh Sunray Venus Clams have an almost 100% open rate; much higher than most species. Sunray Venus Clams grow from South Carolina to Florida and get to be about 3 inches long. They have a beautiful shell that turns a pink salmon color when cooked.
Recently Bruce Barber a Professor of Marine Science at Eckerd College has started research on Sunray Venus Clams around Anna Maria Island’s bay side. In July Barber received an $82,000 grant from Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer service’s Division of Aquaculture to specifically study the eating and reproductive habits of Sunray Venus Clams. During the year long project, Barber will be studying a natural population of the clams just south of the Anna Maria City Pier to gain information to better inform shell fish fisheries like locals run Bay Shellfish company.
In Florida all submerged coastal land is state owned. Currently only 2,250 of 280,000 acres of this submerged land are leased for aquaculture. With such a great deal of available space there is a lot of potential for growing Sunray Venus Clams that could be a great boon to the Florida shell fish market.
Anna Maria Island restaurateur and partner at Bay Shellfish company Ed Chiles is on the forefront of supplying the Island with this delicious bivalves. Currently the Sunray Venus Clams can be found at all three of Chiles restaurants The Sandbar, Beach House and Mar Vista Dockside. Chiles believes Tampa Bay waters to the north of Anna Maria Island are the perfect area to grow Sunray Venus Clams because of water temperature, quality and nutrient content.
Next time you visit Anna Maria Island be sure to support local aquaculture and try out Sunray Venus Clams.
Tampa Bay Times, “Sunray Venus clams could be Florida’s next big aquaculture crop“, online edition August 22, 2015.
Solo Travel Girl, “Florida Aquaculture: Learning About Sunray Venus Clams in Charlotte Harbor”
ChefsResources.com, Venus Sunray Clams