JANUARY - ISLAND CREEK OYSTERS

The front-half of January was busy. While we continued to harvest oysters the usual way, that task was winding down. At the same time, we accelerated getting the remaining oyster trays out of the mud, and out of harms way - plus we bagged a few thousand oysters for pitting.

By the end of January, general work was reduced to about 50%, while other activities picked up a bit - like odd jobs assisting with the continued demolition and carpentry at Island Creek’s new oyster hatchery.

Although I’m still challenged with many aspects of farming, I continue to learn about overall operations - from farming, to market distribution, to how the hatchery works, and more. It’s been great.
— oatbay

HAPPY 2019 oyster lovers!

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  • sea foam farming

  • the big chill

  • Pitting

  • a primer on oyster seed production

  • Growing an oyster hatchery, pt. 1


sea foam farming - january 14

An interesting day on the Saquish lease

This is not snow - it’s frozen sea foam that’s deep and heavy. Joe, who manages the Saquish lease, was through this last year, and knew exactly what we had to do to extract over 800 pounds of Aunt Dotty’s. It took four trips: thought that I was going to DIE!! Truth be told, I sat out the last run - my excuse being someone had to record this epic effort ;-)

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The tray Tim is lifting is called a “holding car”. When full of oysters it weighs about 80 pounds.

The tray Tim is lifting is called a “holding car”. When full of oysters it weighs about 80 pounds.

Joe, Nick and Tim taking a breather.

Joe, Nick and Tim taking a breather.


THE BIG CHILL - january 21

Feeling cold is relative. To my Facebook buddy Michael Irving of Prince William Sound Alaska, our kind of cold weather must feel kind of nice. The little guy above that payed us a visit at Saquish on this day was unfazed.

Feeling cold is relative. To my Facebook buddy Michael Irving of Prince William Sound Alaska, our kind of cold weather must feel kind of nice. The little guy above that payed us a visit at Saquish on this day was unfazed.

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It’s rare that the term “dangerous cold” is employed in Boston and along the coast, but today is one of those rare moments. It’s the combination with wind that creates a dangerous component by introducing wind chill factor.

Today’s wind chill values of -20 for many is sufficient to cause frostbite in only 30 minutes of exposure ...

— Matt Noyes, Boston 10
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It was too cold to work on this particular day, but not cold enough for a few pictures :-)

The Oysterples, which is active all winter - culling, counting and bagging oysters.

The Oysterples, which is active all winter - culling, counting and bagging oysters.

Snug Harbor looking out toward the bay and the Duxbury Bay Maritime School

Snug Harbor looking out toward the bay and the Duxbury Bay Maritime School

DBMS.

DBMS.

DBMS, facing Bayside Marine. Island Creek’s 11 acre campus is just on the other side of those wrapped up boats.

DBMS, facing Bayside Marine. Island Creek’s 11 acre campus is just on the other side of those wrapped up boats.


pitting oysters

PITTING
- verb
1. the act or operation of digging a pit
2. the act or operation of placing in a pit
— Dictionary.com

Island Creek employs pitting this time of year. Skip and Mark watch the forecast constantly - every morning and every night - and when it looks like it's going to be 20 degrees or below for four nights in a row with a whole lot of wind, it's time. Ice and wind means mangled gear and oysters scattered all over the bottom. It's not an issue of oysters per se (Island Creek's survive our winters on the bottom). It's the Row 34's, Aunt Dotty's, and thousands of pieces of gear that would be at risk; therefore, every last one of those little sweeties - in the hundreds of thousands - are placed in root cellars on campus and over at Saquish for a winter's nap in cool damp, root cellars. As far as I know, growers have been pitting oysters since the 1800's (Henry David Thorough observed and wrote about pitting in his book "Cape Cod").

When the first big tides in March or April roll around Favorable temperatures matter), the oysters will come back out of their cellars and return to ICO's grants.

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These pitted oysters are alive and well in the root cellar, however dormant.

Temperature and humidity is important. This picture was taken on one of the single-digit mornings. The root cellar was at 34 degrees with a relative humidity of 80%. That’s pretty darn good!

Temperature and humidity is important. This picture was taken on one of the single-digit mornings. The root cellar was at 34 degrees with a relative humidity of 80%. That’s pretty darn good!


growing an oyster hatchery, pt. 1

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Although they much prefer the hatchery-side of the business, this crew is as much farmers as the farmers are! While the hatchery’s been under construction, they’ve worked alongside us out on the bay - working the same hours, the same routines, the same weather - whenever additional support was needed. Their passion runs deep, and their positivity is infectious :-) …

Hannah Pearson, Hatchery Manager

Hannah Pearson, Hatchery Manager

Shawna Chamberlin, Hatchery Technician

Shawna Chamberlin, Hatchery Technician

Emily Fay, Hatchery Technician

Emily Fay, Hatchery Technician

Cat Fillo, Hatchery Technician

Cat Fillo, Hatchery Technician

Nick Keohan, Hatchery Technician

Nick Keohan, Hatchery Technician

Monika Shmuck, Hatchery Technition

Monika Shmuck, Hatchery Technition

Out with the old

Last July, Island Creek’s hatchery closed-shop at its former location on the Maritime School’s campus. Every single piece of gear and equipment was from there to Island Creek’s new facility. It was a painstaking process for the hatchery crew that continued through the early fall. They did it all.

@schambs715

@schambs715

@schambs715

@schambs715

@schambs715

@schambs715

This  was  the former hatchery! @schambs715

This was the former hatchery! @schambs715

In with the new

Construction had to start somewhere, and everybody pitched in. The new hatchery building formerly served as a science lab for Battelle, a global research and development organization, researching marine life sciences here in little ‘ol Duxbury Massachusetts. Battelle sold the 11 acre property, including buildings and facilities to Island Creek in 2017. Battelle’s former research building was completely gutted last fall; construction commenced in December.

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#emfay

#emfay

Yours truly, having a little fun.  @emfay

Yours truly, having a little fun. @emfay

#emfay

#emfay

Putting Things Together

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Starting Fresh

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Growing microalgae - oyster food - for the new hatchery

“Broodstock oysters (above and below) are adult oysters (2–3 years old). Male and female oysters are fooled into thinking it’s springtime, because of the temperature-controlled tanks they’re in. They are fed the algae that is grown here,

@schambs715

@schambs715

There’ll be much more cool hatchery stuff to share in upcoming february posts!

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so long, january!

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