I began farming for Island Creek Oysters (ICO) in Duxbury, MA on Monday, July 31. Below are some images. There's so much to learn.The lobster fishing I experienced earlier this season is what I would say is 2-dimensional work: 1. set the traps, 2. haul the traps. There is, of course, much hard work and lots of activity, but it's a pretty simple process. Oyster farming is a whole different story.
The Oysterplex, which is a floating platform and shed use for culling, counting, bagging, and transporting the oysters by mini-barge to a refrigerator truck for delivery to restaurants. We cull, count and bag thousands of oysters a day:
The gear shed, adjacent to the dock
Culling is sorting through a big pile of oysters by hand, to chose the ones that are the absolute best for market. ICO produces a variety of three oysters throughout the bay: Row 34's, Aunt Dotties and Island Creeks. The pile below are the Island Creeks.
Tools used for culling: a 3' PVC ring and a screwdriver.
Island Creeks are culled in five separate sizes. It's taken me awhile to internalize exactly what the correct sizes are, especially the "premium" and "selects", which are the two smaller sizes, the premiums measuring slightly smaller than the selects. The "regulars" are easy, as they measure the diameter of the 3' ring. The "extra large (aka "chuncky)" will exceed the diameter.
Row 34's can be culled directly from their trays at really low tide, eg: "on the tide", or in the Oysterplex
ICO oysters are counted 100 per bag:
Row 34s (note the bag below that’s inside-out) are culled and counted by two different sizes - "regular" & "select".
Aunt Dotties are pre-sorted for us by "select" only.
Island Creeks, are sorted and counted by five different sizes: "jumbo", "chunky", "regular", "select" & "premium":
THE TIME FOR FARM-WORK DEPENDS ON THE TIME OF LOW TIDE
The sweet-spot for harvesting Rows and Dotties is an hour or-so before, thru an hour or-so after, dead low.
Spring tides happen when the sun-earth-moon are in alignment. Neap tides happen seven days after a spring tide, when the sun and moon are at right angles to each other.
A fews more photos will wrap up August, 2018! :