On what was probably the last nice day of the year, we took a trip down the road into Wanchese and saw the Wanchese Seafood Company’s oyster aquaculture dock facility.
Oyster aquaculture is basically just growing oysters to harvest in captivity. The Company grows the native Crassostrea virginica oyster. This type of aquaculture is especially neat because the oysters filter water while feeding on plankton, which greatly improves water clarity. No other food or nutrients have to be added to the system, which makes it efficient and not very costly.
Joey Daniels manages and owns the Company and was kind enough to show and explain to us how the process works. We met him at the dock where we first saw the flupsy, which is an oyster aquaculture nursery. It was a cool set up especially since it didn’t take up all that much space, yet yielded a very large number of little baby oysters. Once the oysters get to a decent enough size in the flupsy, they are put in cages and taken out into the Sound to the “farm.” Joey leases one of his plots of about 10 acres of underwater land from the State to grow his oysters. When we get out there, we see ropes that let Joey and his employees know where they have the different sized oysters and what used to be a 90-foot house boat, which is the platform on which they can do some of their work.
Just on those 10 acres, and not accounting for the large amount of dead ones from the storms and other things, Joey estimated he currently had about 3.8 million oysters. And the ones he raises, Bodie Island oysters as they’re fittingly called, are specifically for the half-shell market (which is pretty upscale, if you know anything about eating oysters).
It was great that we got to get out on the water and learn a little bit about the water life, since we’ve been focused more on the land life with our work. It was also pretty fitting that we concluded this past week with a trip to an oyster aquaculture facility, as on Tuesday we got to experience eating oysters first-hand at Beth’s annual oyster roast. They weren’t the Bodie Island oysters but they still got happily got eaten up. I even tried one for the second time in my life. And as I told Corey, “it was good.” Being so close to fresh seafood definitely gives you a new perspective on it and the work that people do to get that food. Buy it as local and as close to home as you can, people!