Announcing “Rhode Island’s Shellfish Heritage: An Ecological History”

ecohistory_cover2 Lei.inddWhen I go shellfishing, I feel like when I’m gardening — being part of the soil and the earth and connected to nature — but it’s something unique to Rhode Island … And I can feel what it might have been like a couple hundred years ago doing the same thing.

Stories like those of Providence resident Jaime Dice, above, fill the pages of the new book Rhode Island’s Shellfish Heritage: An Ecological History, written by Sarah Schumann and published by the University of Rhode Island.

The process of researching and writing the book was enlightening for Schumann.

“Ask any Rhode Islander about shellfish and shellfishing,” she says, “and you’ll soon be regaled by treasured memories and family legends. Intertwined with those recollections is the story of a state and its waters, a story rich with politics, adventure, riches and ruin, and a powerful connection to place.”

Author Sarah Schumann is herself a razor clam harvester.

Author Sarah Schumann is herself a razor clam harvester.

The book—a project that grew out of the development of the state’s 2014 Shellfish Management Plandelves into the history of Rhode Island’s iconic oysters, quahogs, and all the well-known and lesser-known species in between. It offers the perspectives of those who catch, grow, and sell shellfish, as well as of those who produce wampum, sculpture, and books with shellfish — particularly quahogs — as their medium or inspiration.

The book was produced by the Coastal Institute at URI and the Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant, both located at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography. It is available free for pickup at the Rhode Island Sea Grant program office, or may be ordered for $7 per copy to cover postage and handling. One copy per household, please. For ordering information, or to read online, visit