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

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with journey restrictions in place worldwide, we launched a sequence — The World Through a Lens — through which photojournalists assist transport you, nearly, to some of our planet’s most lovely and intriguing locations. This week, Randy Harris shares a group of pictures from the shores of Cape Cod.

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 used to be out for a stroll at low tide. From a distance, I noticed what appeared like little black sails in the water.

Chris was a spectacle: alone together with his boat and desk in the center of the bay — like an artist together with his easel, portray a fiery dawn. He stood there fastidiously scraping the barnacles off his oysters, then tossing them again into the cages the place they’ll sit for a pair of years on the flooring of the bay.

Before the arrival of the Europeans, the native individuals of Cape Cod, the Nauset tribe, had an ample provide of oysters. Crassostrea virginica, referred to as the American oyster (or the japanese, Wellfleet, Atlantic or Virginia oyster), was naturally flush in coastal areas and estuaries, the place the rivers meet the sea. Oyster reefs had been America’s coral reefs; oysters filtered the water — some grownup oysters can filter 50 gallons a day — and fed a variety of different sea life.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, illness, overharvesting and new applied sciences — together with developments in dredging, canning and transportation — remodeled America’s oyster business. The native oyster inhabitants in Wellfleet, Mass., for instance, was practically depleted. To cope, locals started seeding the waters with younger oysters imported from the Chesapeake.

Cape Cod is as unique as its oysters. Depending on the location, the high tidal waters flush the oysters with a varying mix of freshwater and saltwater. This helps create nuanced flavors.

Wellfleet, which juts farther out into the bay, is famous throughout the world for its briny oyster. In Barnstable, Chatham and Orleans, the fresh tidal water and sweet marsh algae combine to create a sweet and earthy flavor profile. Eastham oysters are known for being both mildly briny and earthy.

Paul Wittenstein, the general manager of A.R.C., explained how the hatchery produces its seed: In midwinter, the hatchery places adult shellfish in warm water that’s rich with algae, which causes the shellfish to spawn. The hatchery then catches the eggs, hatches them and grows them in their tanks until spring, when they’re moved into the A.R.C.’s nursery system. From there, they continue to grow before being measured, counted and sold to farmers.

Source link Nytimes.com

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