"On the Shores of Cape Cod, Where the Oyster Is Their World"

"Pollution, development and overharvesting have greatly diminished America's natural oyster habitat. Aquaculture and adaptable farmers have changed the game."

"When I first met Chris Crobar, he was a half mile from the shore, on the tidal flats that stretch far out into Cape Cod Bay. It was 5 a.m., and I was out for a walk at low tide. From a distance, I saw what looked like little black sails in the water.

Chris was a spectacle: alone with his boat and table in the middle of the bay — like an artist with his easel, painting a fiery sunrise. He stood there fastidiously scraping the barnacles off his oysters, then tossing them back into the cages where they’ll sit for a couple of years on the floor of the bay.

Before the arrival of the Europeans, the native people of Cape Cod, the Nauset tribe, had an abundant supply of oysters. Crassostrea virginica, known as the American oyster (or the eastern, Wellfleet, Atlantic or Virginia oyster), was naturally flush in coastal areas and estuaries, where the rivers meet the sea. Oyster reefs were America’s coral reefs; oysters filtered the water — some adult oysters can filter 50 gallons a day — and fed a range of other sea life."

Randy Harris reports for the New York Times with photographs August 10, 2020.


Source: NYTimes, 08/10/2020