Got clams? Researcher hopes to collect shellfish to study Iqaluit waters

A master's student with the University of Guelph is studying clams in and around Iqaluit, looking to learn what's inside them and get a better idea of what's in the water they inhabit.

A University of Guelph student is looking to find out more about clams and their environment

Anna Bunce (left) and Anna Manore are hoping to collect 400 clams over a two-year period, offering harvesters small gifts in exchange. (John Van Dusen/CBC)

If you have any clams to spare in Iqaluit, one researcher will be glad to take them.

A master's student with the University of Guelph is studying clams in and around the city, looking to learn what's inside them and get a better idea of what's in the water they inhabit. 

"There isn't a lot of information that exists about clams around Iqaluit, so we're looking to sample the clams to get an idea of what they might be picking up from their environment, what's there, what's not and where it might be coming from," said Anna Manore.

Researcher Anna Manore is hoping to collect clams from local Iqaluit harvesters, using them as bio-monitors to study the water they inhabit. (Anna Bunce)
Over the next few days, the student will be hanging around the causeway and breakwater, offering harvesters small gifts like shovels, gloves, mesh bags and buckets in exchange for their clams.

"Clams are really interesting things to collect because clams are filter feeders," she said. "They do filter a lot of water, and that means they that serve as very good bio-monitors.

"So if you sample clams you can get a pretty good idea of what's present in the water around those clams."

She's hoping to collect 400 clams over a two-year period.

The study is part of the People Animals Water and Sustenance project — known as PAWS — a multi-disciplinary project associated with the University of Guelph.

"Clams are a really key and important country food and we don't want to be taken away what's being brought into the community, so 400 is a goal over a two-year time span," said Anna Bunce, a project manager with the PAWS project. 

"But really, we`ll take as many as people are willing to give us."

The researchers are working closely with Nunavut's health department and plan to share their findings with the community.