Katama Bay Oysters
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Availability: Year Round
Size: 3.75 inches
Appearance: Clean, white shells, tumbled
Flavor Profile: A salt bomb with a sweet-as-candy finish.
- Salinity: 3.3% < 3.5% full oceanic salinity
- Tides: Five to seven foot tides - storms of 2006 broke the barrier beach through to open ocean.
- Bottom Makeup: Sandy with some eel grass vegetation.
Hatchery seed is purchased from Maine and started in a tidal upweller, then moved to a rack-and-bag system off-bottom. Time to market: 2-3 years.
I grew up on Martha's Vineyard, and my dad operated his own commercial boat. I wanted to follow him into commercial fishing, but he pushed me to get into aquaculture because he thought it had a brighter future. I applied for a farm in Katama Bay around 2006. I just loved the idea of being able to grow shellfish and work in the bay versus the open ocean. After a little research, oysters seemed like the smartest way to go and there were successful oyster farms already. The oysters were so colorful and shiny and grew so fast. I was hooked and knew it was what I wanted to do forever. I convinced my dad to team up with me, so now we operate 2 farms with 2 full-time employees year-round and 3 part-timers in the summer. We literally work 7 days a week unless it's too cold or windy.
I am very particular about our oysters and take so much pride in them. We built a wind powdered tumbler which we use every day during growing season and right before we sell them. I strongly believe that while the oysters are growing, tumbling them makes the oyster shells stronger, and it also keeps the shape rounder, cups deeper, and meats plumper. It also cleans them right before going to market and chips the fine edges and new growth so opening is easier. The tumbling and hard work definitely help make our oysters unique.
Our team really has a great time out on the water. And when the oysters look good, it's hard not to smile. The harder you work tumbling, sorting, and cleaning, the better your oysters will look and sell. It's tough dealing with weather and ice throughout the year (my fingers and feet are always numb in the winter), but I wouldn't have it any other way.