Fish Fellowship Stage 2: Wellfleet Oysters

As mentioned in the post, Fellowship Stage 1, I used the Wellfleet Oyster Festival as an outlet to practice what I learned with Jason Houston but also to learn more about the Oysters and the culture of a small, seasonal aquaculture driven town.

About 60-70 ‘Grants’ (privately owned sections of water for aquaculture) over 140 acres are owned in Wellfleet with no more available.  Grants range in size from ¼ of an acre to 11 acres.  A hobby or side job for some, a livlihood and main source of income to others.  Wellfleet brings in 2-3 million dollars a year from aquaculture making them one of the largest aquaculture towns in the northeast.

Jason and I met up early along the sunrising landscape to take some pictures of the ‘pre-mob’ town and talk with a few Oyster farmers and habor masters doing their daily routine.

A harbor master talked to us about the ‘kulch’ program that was introduced to Wellfleet about 20 years ago where old shells are saved and spread over the bays as a way to recycle the shells and provide sturdy beds and surfaces for the new Oysters to grow.

In another bay, a scientist gave us a few moments of her time to explain the research and analysis she was conducting on how the Oysters filtered and cleaned the waters (one Oyster filters 50 gallons per day).  Her intent was to get grants to be able to plant Oysters in more polluted bodies of water throughout the country to help clean them up.


The actual street festival atracted somewhere upwards of 5,000 people and consisted of live music, tents selling varies Oyster crafts/ souvineers and of course vendors serving the world famous Oysters anyway imaginable.

If attending the Oyster fest this year (2012), heres a few suggestions:

–       Get there early!  I drove out of town back to my motel and got stuck in traffic for about 2 hours trying to get back and find parking.

–       Bring cash!  The only ATM in town was exhausted of cash pretty early on the first day and all vendors took only cash (some personnal checks).  You can only imagine the look on my face when I discovered I only had cash to purchase 1 dozen oysters at the festival.

–       Not too kid friendly . Unless you have a diehard oyster loving toddler, there was just too big of crowds packed into the streets and not a lot of children activities or outlets.

–       Book hotel ahead of time.  I waited till the last minute and could only find a motel about 15 minutes outside of wellfleet (in was nice and affordable though- Skaket Beach Motel)

–       Don’t enter the Oyster shucking competition unless you are confident that you can open more than 30 oysters in a minute without severing the oyster meat or your own appendage.

Oyster Guide: Massachusetts, Wellfleet

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