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August 11, 2023

ShellCast Has Expanded to Include the South Carolina Coast

Written by Emily Noakes, SECOORA Communications Specialist

A man walks in the ocean at thigh-deep water level looking at mesh squares floating in the water that contain oysters.
ShellCast helps shellfish farmers make data-driven management decisions by alerting them of potential lease closures. Image Credit: Jamie Moncrief

ShellCast is a digital tool that helps shellfish farmers make data-driven management decisions by predicting shellfish lease closures. Led by Dr. Natalie Nelson and her team at North Carolina State University, the tool originally focused on predicting shellfish lease closures along the North Carolina coast using forecasted weather conditions from the National Weather Service. Now, the app has expanded to offer lease closure predictions for shellfish waters along the South Carolina coast.

Navigating ShellCast

A man looks at a computer screen that shows a map from the ShellCast website and the ShellCast logo.
ShellCast combines daily rainfall forecasts with shellfish harvest area and grower lease information.
A map of the South Carolina coast that shows green spots to indicate shellfish growing areas. The ShellCast logo is in the lower right corner in light blue bold font.
The app compares this data to rainfall thresholds for shellfish closures to alert growers of predicted closures for today, tomorrow, and two days in advance.

ShellCast calculates the risk of closures for shellfish harvest areas by monitoring rainfall forecasts from the National Weather Service. Heavy rainfall can impact water quality through runoff of polluted water into the shellfish-growing area. The safety of consuming shellfish is directly influenced by the water quality in the areas where shellfish are harvested, as shellfish feed by filtering nutrients out of the water. State shellfish sanitation programs issue rainfall thresholds that drive shellfish lease closures to prevent harvesting when water quality is compromised.

ShellCast combines the rainfall forecasts, rainfall thresholds, and shellfish lease information to warn growers of potential closures. This gives the growers time to harvest their shellfish before their operation is potentially shut down. Forecasted risk of closure is available for today, tomorrow, and in two days. ShellCast defines temporary risk closure as:

  • Very High: at least a 90% chance of exceeding the rainfall threshold
  • High: 75-90% chance of exceeding the rainfall threshold
  • Moderate: 50-75% chance of exceeding the rainfall threshold
  • Low: 25-50% chance of exceeding the rainfall threshold
  • Very Low: 25% chance of exceeding the rainfall threshold

Shellfish growers can select a risk category at which they would like to receive email or text message notifications. They will receive notification when one of their leases has the selected risk closure category for today, tomorrow, or in two days.

Learn More About ShellCast

If you are a shellfish grower in North Carolina or South Carolina that is interested in signing up for potential closure alerts or want to add your lease to the map, sign up on the ShellCast website. If you have any questions about the ShellCast digital tool, please visit the ShellCast FAQ page or contact the ShellCast team (

ShellCast offers predictions for lease closures, but does not report on the status of current closures. If you are seeking closure information, check out the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Conditional Shellfish Harvest Closures Application and the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Shellfish Sanitation Temporary Closure Public Viewer.