Gulf Coast Oysters

Gulf Coast Oysters


(calm country music) (upbeat rock music) (upbeat country music) – [Interviewer] Now,
tell me a little bit about ocean production and
what is the best time of year to start with and why. – Well, the best time to
start playing with it is — I like April, May and June,
that to me — to me that’s the best three months cause
you get the best spat catches. In the span of the young oyster,
when they spat into water which is nothing but egg, they
look like little tadpoles. Microscopic tadpoles, and they
float in this — the current. Then that — in ’bout two
weeks they settle down. So if you don’t
have the rocks down, there’s nothing
for them to set on, they die if they get mud,
they don’t grow back up. So you want your rocks clean,
so you want to put them in April, May and June so
you get your best silts. (upbeat country music) – We’re here at Bayou County
and Bayou County fisheries. We’re going oyster bedding with
Captain Ray on the Cindy C. This is how oyster production
is done here on the coast now. All of our reefs are
pretty much depleted, uh, so it’s all man-made. You eat oysters? This is how it happens. (upbeat country music) Captain Ray, uh, and
Michael are actually loading the used oyster shells. Once the shells go to
the shucking houses, they’re returned back and
then made back into reefs. Uh, for every oyster
shell you see here, more likely you
gonna have an oyster when they get ready to
harvest in two years. It takes two years
before these shells are turned back into
mature oysters for harvest. (upbeat country music) (calm country music) What are you mainly
use for oyster bedding? – I use concrete and shells,
a lot of people use limestone but concrete seems to be the
best cause it’s more porous. And it — it gets us
better spat catch. – (Todd) Where do
you put the rock? Can you just put it anywhere? – [Harold] No, you have to
— you have to find bottom that’s a firm bottom and
you want some current. You wanna have a good bottom
and the bottom gotta be firm. – [Todd] So you want
a naturally either shell bottom or sandy bottom. – It’s gonna be a
sandy clay bottom, it can’t be sand cause
they’ll sink into sand also. It’s gotta be a sandy clay — you’re limited to the
bottom that you can use. – [Todd] Once you
put your rocks down, how long do you expect before
you can harvest those oyster? – It’s average two, two and
a half year, three years. – [Todd] From time — – From time that they
spat, to the time that you can harvest them. So a three inch oyster. – [Todd] Now generally, what
is your return on the amount of rocks that you put out
to what you can harvest. – [Harold] It varies,
if you have a good set you put down a
thousand tons of rocks, you get 20 thousand
sacks of oysters back. Which is a good return. We find a bottom that we want,
we stake it off real good so that we concentrate
our oyster shells and rocks, whatever,
on the best bottoms. The gates open up, we use
the fire engine nozzles to wash them overboard
and that — that gets them all spread out nice that
you don’t wanna make clumps. They gotta be spread, it’s a — it’s a delicate situation
when you putting them down cause it can’t be too thick
and it can’t be too thin. What I do is I’ll
make a small circle and extend the circle out
and then I’ll go longways back on it one way, and then
I’ll crisscross that afterwards with the second or
third loot so that you can get a good evens
spread on the bottom. Usually you get maybe two
harvests off of it before you have to replant it or
you have to go back over it. You’ll get one good season
and then the next season will be not quite as
good and then after that you’d have to re-rock it. (calm country music) – [Bradley] Well to start off, we need to collect broodstock,
which are adult oysters in order to spawn out the larva. We go to different local
reefs within the area to collect all these broodstock. We like to go multiple
reefs so that way we can have genetic diversity. Once we’ve collected
our broodstock, we bring ’em in and hold
’em in our floating cages, pumped in and fed
by bayou water. When we’re ready to spawn out, we look for the amount of
gonads within the broodstock. We can know this my
seeing the canals within the gonadal area
of the broodstock itself. Once we’ve collected
and determined which ones are good to go,
we bring them over here and we dip them in
a freshwater bath. We do this to get any
external parasites or bacteria or any other things we
don’t want in our system. – [Megan] Oysters
are induced to spawn by temperature
change, a lot of feed. So we try to induce them to
spawn by high temperatures. So right now, we have
it at 31 degrees C and if we don’t get a response, then we’ll kind of
bump that up again. But a lot of times if they
get a nice dose of warm water then it’ll trigger one
of the oysters to spawn. Then once we get
a male to spawn, then sometimes we’ll utilize
that sperm to kind of initiate the other oysters to
release their gametes as well. Once we have a good
percentage of males females that have released their gametes then we do the fertilization. – Once we’ve determined the sex
of the broodstock themselves by them releasing their
gametes in the water, we separate out the
males and the females. – [Megan] Bradley is
getting ready to fertilize the eggs that we’ve
collected from our spawn. He has collected
some sperm solution from each of the five
males that we had spawn out and now he’s adding the sperm, we’ll let that sit and
circulate for a while and then we’ll start
checking for fertilization. – We let the eggs
incubate in a bucket for a couple hours,
usually three to four. Once all the eggs metamorphosize and we see them up and swimming, we will determine
the stocking density we want to add to the tank. – [Megan] After fertilization,
we’ll let them sit in the bucket a while to make
sure that they start, uh, multiplying their cells. They’ll go from a one
cell to multiple cells and then eventually they’ll
go into static tanks where they will stay
until we harvest them. – It takes, typically,
14 to 16 days for us to be able to hit the
pediveliger stage,
which is the stage that we want to be able
to give to the D.M.R. so they can set it
on shell or cultch. Once we know they are
ready for harvest, we filter ’em out
into a finer screen, pile the larva down
into a small group and that way we can add ’em to
the way we harvest the larva which simply a damp coffee
filter and damp paper towel. With this, we can put
them in a Ziploc bag and store them in a fridge
for five to seven days. This, uh, allows D.M.R. to
hold on larva longer and, uh, they can set intervals with
them setting the larva. (upbeat country music) – This morning, we’re heading
out to view oyster dredging. Dredging is the most popular
form of oyster production. Um, if we actually
take a metal dredge, they crack the bottom,
just pull the oysters up. Uh, the other is tonging
which is not done very often. It’s very labor
intensive, they’re both
very labor intensive but dredging is the most used
from of oyster production. (upbeat country music) – [Harold] When you throw
your dredges overboard, they’re designed just like
a rake with a bag on it. The oysters will hit
their feet on the rake, that’s what they
call them, rakes. They’ll throw ’em up and
when it throws them up, they go into the bag,
you pick it up on to the side of the boat
and it dumps on a table. You have a man on
each end of the table, and they’re actually,
what we call culling. They’re chipping off all
the rocks and the shells, throwing the good oysters out, throwing everything else
that there back overboard. On wild reefs, you can only work the times that’s
allotted by the state. Which in Mississippi, it varies, because we go by too
many different things. It used to be we opened
September the 1st and work all the way
through to April. Now, it seems sometimes
five, 10, 15, 20 days where we used to have months. The privateer issue can
work anytime of the year as long as the state
don’t have it closed like the Bonnet Carré
Spillway opened up, the water got bad,
they closed areas. But if they don’t
close the areas, we don’t have a size limit, we can catch any
size oyster we want, and we can remove anything
of it that we want. (upbeat country music) – [Todd] Roughly
about how may oysters or how many pounds go in a bag? – [Harold] We have
a legal measures. Mississippi has a measure. Louisiana has a measure. Texas have a measure. Alabama uses a hamper,
they’re different size. Ours typically about
300 oysters will make — it can’t be over 300
oysters to a sack and still make the legal count. They average about a 100
to 110 pounds per sack. (upbeat country music) (engine whirring) (upbeat country music) (metal clanging) (upbeat country music) – [Todd] Once the
oysters are dredged, their sacked, their
brought in by boat where they can be
unloaded on to conveyors, loaded on trucks, and from there they’ll be shipped
all over the country. So next time you’re
eating an oyster, this maybe where they came from. (upbeat country music) – [Jennifer] Crystal
Sea Seafood is a oyster procession
plant in Pass Christian. We buy oysters off of loyal
boats across the Gulf coasts and also from other dealers. We bring ’em back to
our processing plant, In that time we shuck ’em
so that all the people can eat the wonderful
gumbos and fried oysters. We also box them whole
for half-shell restaurants to be able to shuck at the bars. (upbeat country music) Our oysters are distributed
all over the country. (upbeat country music) What we’re doing when
we’re grading the oysters in the whole shell is
we’re looking for oysters that are uniform in size
and that have the right look to be put on a plate
to be eaten raw. (upbeat country music) The clusters would be set aside so that every oyster
that goes into a box that goes to a half-shell
style restaurant, they’re all gonna be uniform, they’re not gonna have clusters, they’re not gonna
have empty shells, they’re not gonna
have bed oysters. They’re gonna have 35 pounds
or 100 oysters that are usable. We’re gonna pack those up
into eight ounce containers, which is a half of a pint, all the way up to
eight pound bucket. In the wintertime,
in our prime season, we are opening and processing
about 800 sacks a day. Two to 300 in the summertime. Oysters aren’t in season
in the summertime, so they have a lot
more regulations on
the fishing of them, so we just don’t have as
many oysters available and people are thinking
about other things like shrimp and crabs
during the summertime. (upbeat country music) For our IQF process,
what we do is we take the top shell
off of the oyster and leave the natural liquor in. We put it on a tunnel
freezer that moves along at about 10 minutes
for the oysters to come out of the other side. The temperature is
minus 85 or 90 degrees. At the very end of the process
we’re gonna lightly mist it with plain water,
nothing added to it, that helps to preserve the
freshness in the freezer. (upbeat country music) (upbeat rock music) – That’s all the time
we have for this week. Hope you enjoyed the show. – Join us again next time
for more exciting adventures. Until then, I’m Pamela Weaver. – And I’m Kevin Meacham. – [Pamela and Kevin]
See you outdoors. (upbeat rock music) ♪ Ridin’ through the bayou,
headed for the sky blue ♪ ♪ Back on the trail
again and again ♪ ♪ Packin’ and huntin’,
and fishin’ the land ♪ ♪ Time is time well-spent. ♪ We’ll take you to the delta,
to the great white shore. ♪ ♪ There’s so much to see and
do, Mississippi Outdoors. ♪ ♪ The great outdoors, ♪ Mississippi Outdoors. ♪ The great outdoors, ♪ Mississippi Outdoors. ♪ The great outdoors, ♪ Mississippi Outdoors.

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