Curious clams a hit with callers to Cawthron

Geoducks were the biggest hit at the Cawthron Institute's Glen Aquaculture Centre open day yesterday, with visitors given the opportunity to see the curious clams up close and even handle them.

The institute's community educator, Jo Thompson, said visitors were excited to see and hear about a species they were not familiar with, and which had "huge potential" for export.

"There's a massive market in Asia, and we're in the research stage to see how we can grow it commercially."

It was the third annual open day at the centre. More than 300 people took the hour-long tours, which also showed them the institute's research into selective breeding of pacific oysters, greenshell mussels and scallops, and its ground-breaking cryo-preservation work, the freezing of shellfish sperm, eggs and larvae in liquid nitrogen.

The days have proved so popular that the institute requires advance bookings.

"Otherwise, we get inundated on the day, which is a fantastic sign that the community is supporting us," Ms Thompson said.

This year it had been decided to keep the tour groups to 12 at a time, to make sure that everyone got a good view. The open days were such a success that they would continue in future years, she said.

The Nelson Mail