This web site is devoted to marine shellfish farming in Willapa Bay, an estuary made famous for its oysters and clams. Bay Center Mariculture Company (dba Bay Center Farms) for the past 38 years has continued the oyster cultivation practices similar to those of the past 150 years. The rich intertidal waters of Willapa Bay on the Washington coast produce shellfish known the world over for quality and cleanliness.
Oysters, and to a much lesser extent clams, are farmed products in Willapa Bay. Most shellfish are grown on the ground in the intertidal areas due in large part to the very shallow nature of this marine estuary. Approximately half of Willapa Bay as measured at high tide becomes exposed at low tide thus creating around 40,000 acres of intertidal area. Oyster growing areas, which through usage have been established for over one hundred years, are owned or leased by individual oyster farmers. Certain of these areas are used as nursery areas for the very small oysters (termed "seed") while other beds are used for growing the young oysters for the first two or so years. The best oysters are a set of beds (termed "fattening") and are used for the final growing until harvest. There are many variations to this series of steps and some will be mentioned as we proceed through the farming cycle, which has been divided into three phases:
I. The Hatchery and Oyster Propagation
II. The Nursery and First Year of the Small Oyster or Clam
III. The Final Two years with Harvest and Shipping