The aquaculture pilot project is off to the races! The guardian crew saw incredible oyster growth during their last visit in May. The team – Wayne Walkus, Jorden Henderson, Wesley Walkus and Ernie Henderson – cleaned and graded the oysters, keeping a detailed record of conditions to compare them to market standards. If the oysters continue to grow at the same pace, the team predicts that 30% of the oysters could be ready for harvest as early as October!
The crew has also started tumbling the oysters – a process that breaks off the extremely thin parts of new growth. It forces the oysters to grow a deeper cup and harden, optimizing them for market quality.
Next week, the team will take the boat out to the farm to sample, sort and clean the nets and cages. The team takes great care of the farm to produce great local oysters!
The team also purchased 500,000 very small oyster seeds and placed them into “bouncing buckets”. As the buckets sit in the water, the currents of the water flow back and forth in the bucket and speed up the seed’s growth. After only one month, the seeds have almost tripled in size.
The other half of the aquaculture project is farming scallops which take a very different and longer process than oysters. Rock scallops usually take one year to develop slowly, and from there will speed up with growth. The team changed their approach recently to create a more optimal environment for the scallops to grow. They lowered the scallop trays to 50 feet below the surface of the water. Since then, they have seen a 99% survival rate out of the 1000 that are left. This week, the team will build four new rafts to start farming 100,000 more scallop seeds.