All last Fall, while harvesting and selling oysters into the city, we saved our best looking, fastest growing, thickest shelled animals. Around New Years, I gave them to the Cornell Hatchery here in Southold to breed. For two months, the conditioned them, that is, they kept them at 20 degrees celcius and gorged them on algae. Monday, they spawned them by raising the temperature up to 30 degrees, then dropping back to 20 and raising to 30.
Wednesday I went in and counted the larvae. From one dozen oysters, we had 10 million oysters in the making! Now it’s a matter of cleaning and feeding in the hatchery until the creek warms enough to support them. By that time they will have grown from microscopic 40 microns to a full millimeter or two.
After our month off, we’re back on the bay. Today I brought in four cages of last year’s seed to clean and sort. Yesterday I set up the sorter, plugged it in, connected it to water and sorted two cages. Basically, we’re back in the swing of the late winter. The 10 day forcast shows no lows much below freezing, so the cages of one year olds can stay outside for a couple of days while being sorted and cleaned without imperiling the juvenile oysters.
Simulateously, our local dock builder has helped me launch a float so I can replace the upweller lost in Hurricane Sandy. Tomorrow I’ll get the kids out to sort the four cages of oysters in the boat and frame out the upweller.
Great to be alive and working on the bay.