Tasty InvasivesPosted: February 5, 2013
The Pacific oyster, which covers the beaches in Hood Canal and any of the smaller bays where the water warms enough for spawning (they need 68-70 degrees), was imported from Japan almost 100 years ago. They must have liked it here. Today, Pacifics dominate the Sound and the tiny, native Olympia oyster that fed NW indigenous tribes for thousands of years, barely exist in the wild.
Conservation groups are working to revive the remnant Olympia populations up and down the coast, and commercial growers are finding success raising them, despite their slow-growing nature and small size.
But for those of us who like to walk the beaches and pick wild oysters, the Pacific is it. And they grow in staggering abundance. In the foreground of the picture I posted yesterday, those are all oysters. In fact, the whole beach is more oyster than sand or mud. And fortunately for us, they’re delicious. The only tough part is finding the prime, smaller size we prefer, and hunching over a big rock while shucking. In Puget Sound, you have to leave the shells on the beach (the next generation grows from seeds adhered to existing shells) so we do our processing on the spot. Next up: Home for the oyster fry! Stay tuned.