AUGUST - ISLAND CREEK OYSTER FARM

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 Farmers

Skip  #islandcreekoysters  photo

Skip #islandcreekoysters photo

Mark  #islandcreekoysters  photo

Mark #islandcreekoysters photo

Joe P.

Joe P.

Ursula  #emmyhagen  photo

Ursula #emmyhagen photo

Ben

Ben

Me  #emfay  photo

Me #emfay photo

Tim

Tim

Shawna

Shawna

Tanner

Tanner

Cory

Cory

Nick

Nick

Hannah

Hannah

Joe R.

Joe R.

Mike

Mike

Cat

Cat

Emily

Emily


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:

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The gear shed, adjacent to the dock

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THE DOCK

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CULLING OYSTERS

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 Creek

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.

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Row 34

Row 34's can be culled directly from their trays at really low tide, eg: "on the tide", or in the Oysterplex

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Aunt Dottie


Counting Oysters

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":

Row 34: the white tag indicates  regulars  are in the bag; The black tag indicates  selects  are in the bag.

Row 34: the white tag indicates regulars are in the bag; The black tag indicates selects are in the bag.

Aunt Dottie: black  select  tag only.

Aunt Dottie: black select tag only.

Island Creek: the single  regular  and  select  tags work the same as with the row 34's; the double-black tag indicates  premium,  & the double white tag indicates  chunky.  Jumbos aren't tagged.

Island Creek: the single regular and select tags work the same as with the row 34's; the double-black tag indicates premium, & the double white tag indicates chunky. Jumbos aren't tagged.

 

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.

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A spring tide is a common historical term that has nothing to do with the season of spring. Rather, the term is derived from the concept of the tide “springing forth.” Spring tides occur twice each lunar month all year long without regard to the season. Neap tides, which also occur twice a month, happen when the sun and moon are at right angles to each other.

Tides are long-period waves that roll around the planet as the ocean is “pulled” back and forth by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun as these bodies interact with the Earth in their monthly and yearly orbits.

During full or new moons—which occur when the Earth, sun, and moon are nearly in alignment—average tidal ranges are slightly larger. This occurs twice each month. The moon appears new (dark) when it is directly between the Earth and the sun. The moon appears full when the Earth is between the moon and the sun. In both cases, the gravitational pull of the sun is “added” to the gravitational pull of the moon on Earth, causing the oceans to bulge a bit more than usual. This means that high tides are a little higher and low tides are a little lower than average.

These are called spring tides, a common historical term that has nothing to do with the season of spring. Rather, the term is derived from the concept of the tide “springing forth.” Spring tides occur twice each lunar month all year long, without regard to the season.

Seven days after a spring tide, the sun and moon are at right angles to each other. When this happens, the bulge of the ocean caused by the sun partially cancels out the bulge of the ocean caused by the moon. This produces moderate tides known as neap tides, meaning that high tides are a little lower and low tides are a little higher than average. Neap tides occur during the first and third quarter moon, when the moon appears “half full.”
— National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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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! :

The "soaker" onboard the Oysterplex stores to-be-culled and culled oysters.

The "soaker" onboard the Oysterplex stores to-be-culled and culled oysters.

The barge, which which transports bagged oysters to the refrigerator truck.

The barge, which which transports bagged oysters to the refrigerator truck.

The refrigerator truck, which delivers our oysters to market.

The refrigerator truck, which delivers our oysters to market.


Working the grader

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Emily’s holding the type of ring used for measuring the Aunt Dottie oysters.  #emfay  photo

Emily’s holding the type of ring used for measuring the Aunt Dottie oysters. #emfay photo

see you, august!

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