Monday, July 25, 2005


"He was a bold man that first eat on oyster."
Jonathan Swift

"Why, then the world's mine oyster; Which I with sword will open."
The Merry Wives of Windsor Act 2 Scene 2, Shakespeare

'Twere better to be born a stone
Of ruder shape, and feeling none,
Than with a tenderness like mine
And sensibilities so fine!
Ah, hapless wretch! condemn'd to dwell
Forever in my native shell,
Ordained to move when others please,
Not for my own content or ease;
But toss'd and buffeted about,
Now in the water and now out.
William Cowper, The Poet, the Oyster and Sensitive Plant

"We are bound to our bodies like an oyster is to its shell"

the pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas, was introduced to the west coast of north america from Japan in 1904. females release millions of eggs. males release, well, as much sperm as they can. that any egg and sperm meet is indeed wondrous. the larvae that develop drift down to the bottom of the water and if they happen to land in the proper intertidal zone (somewhere in the lower half of the upper half, the third quartile up from lowest perhaps, from my limited observation) and in a suitably rocky place they grow, sometimes attaching themselves to rocks and sometimes not.

i have enjoyed collecting and eating clams for many years and i have gotten some experience at finding them. the first time i looked here not far from our new house i found a nice edible clam in about three minutes digging with an empty shell. i learned that there were oysters somewhere local when i got a license and read the regulations. but where? i had no idea of oyster habitat. so we were walking on a beach in town, port townsend, and while walking over a rocky stretch at a medium low tide RD asks "is that an oyster?"

well i'll be darned. an oyster it was. looking around we saw more. later on, another day at another beach i saw the same sort of rocky place at the same sort of tide zone and there were some oysters. not too old yet to stop learning.

the photos below show, we hope, the habitat and appearance of oysters in the wild. there are also native oysters, but they grow much smaller.

oyster habitat. the first place of discovery.

there is an oyster here.

see. right there.

oh well. this one is firmly attached to a rock. someone or something else will eat this one eventually.

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