Sustainable Oyster Farming, West Marin Style – part 3 DBOC, Stewards of the land

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July 1st was the first day to go boating on Drakes Estero since the closure to protect Harbor Seals began on March 1st. I had not been out there since February and really wanted to go visit this special place again. On July 6th I took my boat and cameras out to visit the same oyster racks I described in an earlier post here.

I wanted to see if any clean-up had been done since my last visit.

The location of the two oyster racks I visited are just outside the mouth of Home Bay and can be seen in the image below.

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Home Bay Oyster Racks Map

The first rack I dove near was nearly half occupied with “french tubes”, long white tubes upon which oysters grow directly. The other half of the rack was partially occupied with the older style “black spacer tubes” [see a pile of over 5000 of these tubes I picked up on Point Reyes Beaches here], and partially devoid of tubes of any kind.

What I saw on the bottom under the french tube area shocked me, it was worse than I imagined. I pulled from the bottom, 136 french tubes, all of which were devoid of oysters, but a fraction of what is down there.

Below are still images and a video of what I saw.

Those tasked with cleaning up the mess of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company have their work cut out for them. Each tube I dug out of the mud clouded the water instantly, reducing visibility to nearly zero. In a little over 3 hours, I collected the 136 tubes from under half of one rack, and I estimate 60-70 tubes from under only 20 lineal feet of the adjacent rack. Even with dive gloves on, my fingers bled again and again from the numerous cuts caused by razor sharp oyster shells.

I was unable to load the other 60-70 tubes on my boat, as they were encrusted with mostly dead oysters. I stacked those on top of the racks above where I found them in the mud.

60-70 “french tubes” left on floor of Drakes Estero by Drakes Bay Oyster Company

60-70 “french tubes” left on floor of Drakes Estero by Drakes Bay Oyster Company


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Drakes Bay Oyster Company left these in Drakes Estero

Drakes Bay Oyster Company left these in Drakes Estero


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Oyster farming trash left on the floor of Drakes Estero by Drakes bay Oyster Company

Oyster farming trash left on the floor of Drakes Estero by Drakes bay Oyster Company


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Oyster farming trash left on the floor of Drakes Estero by Drakes bay Oyster Company

Oyster farming trash left on the floor of Drakes Estero by Drakes bay Oyster Company


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Didemnum vexillum. invasive tunicate growing on a suspended oyster growing device called a french tube.

Didemnum vexillum. invasive tunicate growing on a suspended oyster growing device called a french tube.


click on image to see larger version

Didemnum vexillum. invasive tunicate growing on a suspended oyster growing device called a french tube.

Didemnum vexillum. invasive tunicate growing on a suspended oyster growing device called a french tube.


See the next post in this series here

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