The weather is perfect, the tide is high, and the baby oysters (spat) are submerging into their new summer homes. I reach for the last wire cage tucked in the back of the truck, and lift the cover-top to reveal hundreds to thousands of glowing spat. As of July 2013, 50 families are taking care of 48 cages of oysters at 48 different sites around Great Bay Estuary. I remove one of the 100 recycled shells covered with baby oysters and hand it to the new Oyster Conservationist. She smiles with joy and is anxious to show her new neighbors. Today is the first time these four neighbors meet each other as they greet their oysters!
Great Cove neighbors will work collaboratively to care for their oysters, taking weekly shifts to monitor and/or measure spat over the summer. Normandeau Environmental Consultants are new 2013 Oyster Conservationists (OC’s), taking a similar approach to raising their cage of spat during weekends. Eight employees from Nomandeau are joining together from the Bedford and Portsmouth offices to alternate shifts monitoring oysters off their dock in Hampton Harbor.
Another first year OC received her oysters and program training when her two-year-old grandson visited. That evening, she overheard a conversation between her grandson and granddaughter (his younger sister). “He told his sister he was going to have to spend the night at Grandma’s house every Sunday because on Monday morning every week he needed to clean the outside of the cage for the oysters, making sure there was no seaweed stuck to it. He also needed to take out the crabs because they kill the oysters. He said she (his younger sister) could help maybe and maybe spend the night too. But he would have to take out the crabs because they might pinch her.” This OC also mentioned that her grandson was keeping a log book of all the creatures he finds in the oyster cage.
The Oyster Conservationist program brings neighbors together, work-groups together, families together and helps connect people of all ages with their local estuary. Who would have thought that a bivalve could win the hearts of NH’s people and tighten the coastal community!
For more information about the OC Program, please contact Kara McKeton at firstname.lastname@example.org (603) 659-2678 x15