III. The Final Two years with Harvest and Shipping
The very small oyster grows over the next couple of years and the once sand grain sized bivalve now reaches the near harvest size from three to five inches. The weight of the crop now demands the farm workhorses - the boats. A few hundred pounds of seed turn into tons of oysters. While much of a particular years growing crop is transplanted, i.e. is removed from the seed area and placed on better beds for final growth and development. Maybe similar to a natural food lot. If all goes well through the winter storms and the oyster avoids predation or burial by burrowing organisms the bed now develops into a lovely oyster habitat. Rich in the biota of the bay the oysters in their final growing time provide the basis for a healthy biologically diverse assemblage which benefits the whole bay.
The larger boats now 'dredge' the oysters from the bottom. The specially designed baskets with shallow teeth guide the oysters into the steel mesh bags from which they then are picked up and opened in the back to allow the oysters to fall into baskets or on the deck. The boats such as the one harvesting (above) can haul large volumes that can weigh over twenty tons. The above images will illustrate the variety of ways we transport and move oysters from bed to bed or from the bed for harvest.
Oysters from our hundreds of acres are destined for many differnt markets. About half of the harvest crop is prepared in our own processing plant as single live oysters shipped in the shell after they are cleaned, sized, counted and packaged. The other half of the crop each year is sold to other shucking houses for the fresh market.
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