Franklin Countys First News

That’s a lot of snails: 504 pounds pulled from Clearwater Lake

Snorkeler Bailey Smith, 13, of Industry, searches for the non-native, but very invasive Chinese Mystery Snails in Clearwater Lake on Saturday. By 12:30 p.m., Smith had collected more than 8 pounds of snails.

INDUSTRY - More than two dozen volunteer snorkelers and scuba divers of all ages spent Saturday plucking a tenacious aquatic mollusk from the shallows of Clearwater Lake at Allen's Mills.

The Clearwater Lake Association organized Industry's First Annual Chinese Mystery Snail Round-up, which proved to be a popular summertime sport with many turning out to try their luck at finding them or to simply watch the snails pile up on the landing.

The snails, about ping pong ball size, were mostly collected by divers in the shallow cove at the head of the lake next to the public beach. The invasive snails were first spotted in Clearwater Lake 15 years ago and tend to frequent depths of between 2 to 20 feet of water.

First brought to the U.S. as an exotic food source in the late 19th century, the snails were subsequently introduced into wild by people dumping aquariums into lakes and streams. The hardy snails are also good at attaching themselves to boat hulls or bait buckets and do multiply rapidly. In addition to competing with native snails for food and space, the aquatic invaders can clog screens and pipes. They also can carry a number of non-native parasites that are a threat to native species.

Bailey Smith, 13, of Industry, arrived with her snorkel, goggles, bucket and mesh bag promptly at 10 a.m. Slowly floating across the shallow cove, she set about pulling the snails from rocks and sand and stashing them into her bag. The snails put up little resistance. As her collection grew heavy, she brought her catch for weigh-in and a total was added next to her name. Then she went right back for more without a break.

"It's really easy," she said between dives.

At the weigh-in, a big board of 15 names were registered in the 13 and under category and nearly the same number was listed for the older set. Divers with Mainely Scuba of Wilton worked in deeper water just off the breakwater.

Each load of snails was weighed, listed and dumped into two big wheelbarrows. While the snails hid inside their shells, both children and adults surrounded the piles to get a better look the curious catch. Industry Selectman Lee Ireland said he was especially pleased with the number of children who turned out to participate in the first-ever snail roundup.

With a barbecue lunch provided to all of the volunteer participants, some suggested a snail festival should be held every year in Industry.

By the weigh-in's end at 2 p.m., a total of 504 pounds of snails were harvested.

Prizes were awarded for heaviest catch and biggest snail caught. In the adult category, heaviest total snail harvest went to Scott Hall of Farmington, with 212 pounds hauled up. Maya Smith, 9, of Wilton, took the 13 and under award for total heaviest harvest at 60 pounds. Biggest snail caught was landed at 1.2 ounces by Josh Ireland and William Landers.

Results are for Under 13
Maya Smith 60 pounds
Keegan Paradis 23 pounds
Nick Paradis 23 pounds
William Landers 19 pounds

Scott Hall 212 pounds
Rose 56 pounds
Josh Ireland 43 pounds

Biggest Snail 1.2 ounces
Josh Ireland
William Landers

Two wheelbarrows full of Chinese Mystery Snails were plucked from the shallows of Clearwater Lake in Industry, as part of a volunteer community effort organized by the Clearwater Lake Improvement Association, to reduce the invasive species numbers.

Scott Hall of Farmington is weighed with a bag of snails collected from Clearwater Lake. Hall's total haul weighed 212 pounds.

Maya Smith, 9, of Wilton, hoists a mesh bag full of Chinese Mystery Snails she pulled from the shallow cove of Clearwater Lake at Allen's Mills in Industry on Saturday. Smith collected 60 pounds of snails and was awarded the top collector of the 13 and under category.

Getting a closer view of the invasive snails thought to have been introduced as a food source in the late 19th century then to different regions of the U.S. by people dumping aquariums into lakes and streams.

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20 Responses »

  1. That's awesome

  2. So what was done with the snails afterwards?

    If they are edible, could they be sold to dealers? The funds could be put right back into trying to control this invasive species (Among others).

  3. what are they going to do with the snails,,

  4. Yes I'm wondering as well what will be done with the snails?

  5. Some of the snails were taken home by people to feed to their chickens. A few brave folks took some home to try and eat. But the majority of them were buried in a deep hole dug for their disposal..

  6. Hey Pete, whatcha eatin'?

  7. I hope if they do it again next year with contests and prizes, they consider changing how they award prizes. One girl snorkled and collected for 3 1/2 hours and rec'd nothing while other kids were handed "their catch" by adult divers, while these kids played on the beach.

  8. It seems to me that a far sighted restaurant in the area would put them on the menu as a local delecacy. Maine escargot !

  9. For Smiling ..

    Please stop at Lukers Place at the head of Clearwater Lake and have your daughter pick up a prize for all of her hard work . And a big thank you for helping to keep Clearwater a fun clean place to swim ..

  10. smiling*.... i believe I read that a barbeque was offered for all participants.... thats a pretty cool reward in itself. But as a mom of two, I can understand where a child would feel upset after all their hard work.... great point made. Maybe next year even just a small token of reward can be given.... even if its just a printed paper certificate of participation...... Great Job to all who got out and helped with the snail collection ~!!!!

  11. @ Lee Ireland.... great job with your snail collection. You seem like a understanding great guy. For a newly developed event it is hard to please everyone, and it does take a few times to iron out all the wrinkles, especially when kids are involved ! Thank you for bringing things like this to the community !!! And thank you to ALL that helped clean up the lake YOUNG AND OLD(ER) ! =)

  12. What an opportunity to learn. We don't all finish "first" and we don't all win a prize or get a blue ribbon/trophy. This is a great teaching moment for a parent so step up to the plate and explain this to a child BEFORE an event occurs.

  13. It would also be a live lesson- some people work hard to accomplish a goal, and others are handed everything. I do not think this parent is yelling sour grapes- I think he or she was making an observation. You are right not everything in life is fair and it is a good lesson earn your own way.

  14. Previous post should have said life lesson.

  15. Geez...can't people just have a cool time doing a civic event and enjoy the day, eat a hamburg and not try to turn it into a them against us situation!! Geez!

  16. Good job Maya!!!

  17. As one of the divers giving the snails to the kids, we were trying to divide them up as turns to all the kids that came down to us and got our bags...We didn't care about prizes, we were doing it for husband and I never weighed in any as we wanted the kids to have fun taking the snails up to be weighed and it helped us not to have to take all our gear off to get our bags empty....We didn't mean to offend anyone or hurt anyones feelings.:(

  18. What a fun way to help!! Hats off to whoever came up with the idea. They should definitely made it an annual event!

  19. Wooooo hoooooooooo Maya! Great job!