The town of Harpswell has closed almost 15 acres at the mouth of Strawberry Creek to the harvesting of shellfish and marine worms for the rest of the year.
The closure is being done to study the effectiveness of removing a couple of predators that are taking their toll on clams: invasive European green crabs and milky ribbon worms.
Darcie Couture, the town's marine resource coordinator, says green crab numbers are down significantly so far this year and researchers are wondering if the cold winter killed a lot of them, or if the crabs moved into deeper water and are waiting for warmer temperatures before moving closer to shore - or a combination of the two.
"What we're hoping to do in Strawberry Creek is show that, now that, hopefully, the population over all is lower than it was last year, maintenance trapping will be sufficient to keep the crabs out of the high resource areas," Couture says.
In addition to predator control, Couture says the study will look into the survival of seed clams. She says it's one of four municipal pilot studies approved by the Maine Department of Marine Resources.