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fi f t
r" LiS" SEVERAL HUNDRED,
THOUJAHO QUSHEL6 OF OYSTER'
Ol.li bI with n fringe," ho ) oiled
through n liolo In the wall.
It was 11! -02 a. m., Septombor
I. 1908. mill tlin Urn! riialiimnr
fcf tho o)ntor Bonsnn had broken the screen
of m story which nurrotuidH the cntranr
lvvaTVW cofYWHT 3Y iwoefthooD t.uHotBMK
JfEYE- CW 7 OYSTER PECK OF A STEA1 DREDGE.
I tho bivalves Into tlio dally menu of the man who
pulitimzos the "hash-houses" of the bis tliy
The innn who yelled through the hole In the wnll was
I'.o waller and an answering grunt irom the blackness
within told the man with the iipion and the man with
the uppetlto that tlio cook understood that what wns
wtr.tcd was half n dozen oysters, fried, with a liberal
background of broken crnckora lolled In the yolk of nn
Tlio remarkablo thing about tho Utile Incident rolated
above Is that oyster IIhIiIiir In the waters of tho east
bi'gaii nl midnight. August 31, yet at 12:01' n, in., Septum
Inn 1 lust two minutes aftor the long pilings had beun
ilnipod Into (ho bods, u thousand miles away a cu'slomor
had been nble to successfully gnthor a full sized uuml
of tho delleney.
In fact the llmt oystor fanner In tho Chosapoake bay
p lied up his first bivalve at the same time that the ros
taut nut patron wins doliiK tho samo. the only difference
1).'Iik In the dlstanco.
This talc mlKlit load Hkoptlcal persona to bellovo (hat
r-pher oysters am maniifacturotl uowadnys or else tho
inhlulitht ndmlior of tho mussel was beliiK fud the
produce of 1907.
The eater know that It was September 1 and Hint oys
ters appear durlni; each month the spolliui; of which
. ontalus mi It Hence he felt perfectly safe as tho oys
f n oik' by one slid fiom (he fork into his mouth.
S. IoiiMsih toll us that many of the big denleis In oysters
iuvk idnys are puttlim tho holdover pioduct or the pro
Moiis ar Into refi monitor plants In onler that the In
tirlur IoiirIiik, for the delicacy previous to Septembor 15
inai In satiated It Is Just about the mlddlo of Soptem
li( tth.Mi wh first ixnsiii to taste the entch of tho year.
Tioui then on until the llrst of Mn). Including Sentouibar,
OrtiiUe,, November, Docember, January. lVbruary lots
of oyiter. in IVbrimry; It has two Us March and April,
we have the bivalve stowed, fried, baked, raw and In
numerous other edible and luudlhlo wa.
Hut scientific ftlonds tell us to take our oysters In
Houp fur i he first two weeks of tho oystor season. This,
they say, will eradicate all possibility of evil effects. The
man who has a cousin who Is well ncnualutud with the
hrothor of n jouiig lady who onco found a pearl In it rnw
ovstor of courso will revolt from tho edict that early
Hoasou blvulves should bo eaten cooked, because boiling
destroys tho luster of tho pearl and renders It valueless.
However there are fow who do not rollsh oyster soup,
oven If they 'simply CAN'T bear oystor,"' so many fol
lowed out tho scientific ultimatum. Hosi.iurnnt statistics
have It that fried ojsteis are tho most palatable to tho
ineu and womoii who patronize restaurants. Next comes
tho oyster stow nnd thou tho oscallopod oyster, followed
In succession by the raw and tho baked product.
Scarcely less oxcltlnK than tho rush for n western boom
town slto Is thu dash of tho oystormon for tho beds aftor
midnight or tho 31st of August. According to law, not
it boat must move until the 1st of Septouiber has ar
rived. Klrst to roach tho oyster bods, and llrst to gather a car
go and sprint for tho wharf, moans first In tho market.
ovory nervo to win
In this blvnlvular
race. Midnight of
August 31 finds
tho Hoot ready for
tho run. Kvery oys
toruinu has his
boat as trim and
ready us care can
When the clock
has ticked the
mouth of August
from the calendar
tho race Is begun.
It Is n run of sev
eral mllos from the
1 A LARGE JTEAM OYSTER DREDGE jli
STEAnrtG SLOWLY OVER AN OY6TER BED
stinting point to t10 oyster beds, and tho few who are
privileged to be pirsont whon the fleet gets under way
participate In as pretty a moonlight rnco as Is to be
soon on tho witter.
With every stitch of canvas set, the boats Bklm along
In tho silent night, every sklppor oxortlng liimsolf to
the limit of his seamanship to cieep ahead of tho field.
To Insuro an even race to all. a United States guard
boat watches tho start and sees thnt no captain moves
until tho legal time. The bont also accompanies tho
fleet to watch the Ashing ami prevent any piratical tilcks
whon the bods are vouched.
Hnch oysternmn must fish In his own ground when
the boats roach the beds. How thoy nn able to find their
own particular fishing giouud In tho dark Is a mystery to
Sometimes they mistake some ono else's bed for tholrs.
Hence the presenco of tho guard bont to prevont trouble
between rival i?klppeis who. either lutentloualiy or by
mlsluke, attempt to fish on tho same ground.
in rocont years many of the sklpiri-j or oystor boats
have been fitted with Btoam mid gasoline eugtnos to
boat tholr rivals who hao to depend on sail power alono.
A curious collection of engines worn at tlrstr soon on tho
bonts. Discarded gasoline machines thnt would havo
found their wu to the scrap heap but for the oystor
men had been oiled up and put In tuadliioss for the son
son, nnd steam ougiuos that woro never designed for
murine work helped the fortunate skippers who owned
them to show n clean pair of heels to the sailing craft
whon tho grand rush for tho oyster bods bognn.
Now that tho oyster seaoon Is well under wny nnd tho
mollusk Is obtainable fiesh from tho waters of tho east
ern const of the Tutted States, tho topic of bivalves Is
naturally nn engrossing ono with the oplcuro. Tho rea
son that fishermen cannot pluck oysters between April
and September Is because the months of May, June,
July and August are the spawning months.
Sometimes tho bivalves arc transplanted during tho
season and then tho reproduction Is often arrested.
An average oyster will produce 10,000,000 eggs nnd n
very largo one 00,000,000. When rlpo the sexui.l products
oozo from tho
r o s ti 1 1 s from
meeting In tho
tion results In
five or six hours
In the production
of n ciliated gas
t r ti 1 n, a c ii p
shaped f ree
Ism, often car
ried by the cur
rents to found
now nnd remote
beds. An embry
onic shell soon
appears, and tho
1 1 1 1 1 o oyster
sinks to tho bot
tom where. If fa
It becomes nt
Its loft valve
and g r a d u
ally assumes the
adult form. Tho
spat Is 1-80 to
1 00 of an inch In diameter, ami Its subsequent growth
vnrles with Its envlronnunt Single oysters on firm bot
tom become round and deep, but those in clusters or on
soft bottom grow Irregular and elongate. On undisturbed
natural bods they grow In clusters, and tho beds repose,
aB n rule, on n muddy substream upon which they havo
been built mi fiom a comparatively small nucleus by
tho flxntlon, year after ear, of the young upon tho shells
of their prodecessoiB.
Oysters live from nbovo low-water marlc to n depth
of 15 fnlhoius, wiioro density lo botweon 1.002 nnd 1.025
tho optimum being from 1 .01 1 to 1.022, and In a rango
of temporaturo which in Chesapeako bay oxlends from
32 dogroos K. to 00 degrees R Tho embryos and fry re
quire more equable and stable conditions, the tempera
ture required being between C3 degrees R nnd 80 degiees
R Tho host nnd most productive hods nre commonly In
strong tldul currents, wh'ch disseminate tho fry and food
and keep the old shells clean enough to catch tho spat.
Diatoms constitute about 90 per cent, of tho oyster's food,
the rest consisting of other small plants and animals, nnd
In tho breeding season of Its own eggs and fry. Tho lat
ter nio eaten by othor mollusca also, and from its attach
ment until it tenches u large size tho oyster Is preyed up
on by starfish, drills (Urosalplnx), drumflsh, rnys, and
other aggresslvo enemies, while It wages a passive fight
against starvation and suffocation with mussels, barnit
ales, bpoiigos, worms, aquatic vegetation, nnd othor pro
lific or luxuriant organisms growing on the beds,
Ostrou Ylrglnlcn occurs from tho Oulf of Saint Law
rence to tho ttoptcs, but between Cape Hreton and Cape
Cod tho Sheepscot river, Maine, Is Its only locality. It
has also been Introduced In San Francisco bay, whore
It broods to a limited extent.
Tho greatest production Is In Chesapeake bay, where
the principal yield Is from the natural beds. Most of
tho oysters from New Knglnnd and from Now York and
the outer coast of New Jersoy are prpducod by planted
bods; tho eutlro yield ot tho l'nclflc coatt Is similarly de
rived, nnd there has been recontly a considerable increase
In oystor cultiiro In New Jersoy, Virginia and other
states. The number of uoons engaged In the Industry
Is estimated at upward of 00,000, but as many of them
aro employed part of the year In other fisheries, fnrmlng,
etc., deflnlto statistics aro not nvnllablo. Ilaltlmoro Is the
most extensive market and Now York has a considerable
export trado with Europe.
Tho native oyster of tho Pacllic coast Is a small thin
shelled species. In 1901 159,310 bushels, valued at $251,
192, wero marketed, principally on tho Paclflc coast.
The European oyster Is found from Italy to Norway.
It Is n round thin-shelled species, moro shapely than tho
American species, and hermaphroditic, first female and
afterwards male. It Is less prolific than Its American rcla
tlvo and tho youns undergo considerable development In
tho mantle chamber of tho mother. It thrives In water
of full or almost full, organic density.
Tho oysters of Japan occur In shallow and moderately
brackish or moderately salt water throughout tho wholo
nrchlpelago; and a very largo salt water species Is found
in deep water. Many other species of Ostrcn aro found
in temperate and tropical seas throughout tho world.
Tho oyster fnmlly appears to have had Its origin
In some Imperfectly known forms. The family Is found
also In the Permian. In tho Trlasslc It is represented
by .v strongly plicated form, Alectryonla, which form
becomes moro prominent In tho Jurassic and Cretaceous.
There aro nlso the common nrcuato shells of Qryplmo
and Exogyra in tho Jurassic and CretaceoiiB. Ostrca
Itself Is known in tho Mcsozolc, but It attained Its maxi
mum of Blzo and ubundanco In tho Tertiary. Tho sandy
mails of this period In the southwestern United States
often contain great numbers of very largo specimens
of oysters. Owing to tho exhaustion of tho natural beds
and their innblllty to supply tho demand for oysters, It
has been found necessary to resort to nrtlflclnl methods
of production, effecting, (1) an Increaso In tho number ol
eggs fertilized; (2) an Increase In tho surfaces avallablo
for flxntlon, and also of tho number of spnt attaching;
(3) tho saving of spnt and young oysters which would
nnturnlly fall victims to enemies and advorso physical
conditions; and (1) tho utilization of barren bottoms
nnd naturally unavailable food supplies. Hut a smnll
part of tho area under water sultnble for oysters has
been utilized by nature, mainly for lack of sultnble bodies
for tho attnehmont of tho young. In the United States
such barren bottom Is utilized by clearing It of all rub
bish and either planting 'cultch' to collect tho spnt, or
elso young oystcre (seed), that thoy may Improve In
size, shape, and quality under conditions safor and
moro favorablo than in their original environment. In
certain placo3 elthor mothod may succeed, but commonly
a locality Is better adapted to ono than tho other.
Tho most suitable bottom for oyster culture consists of
firm mud or of a firm substratum with a thin surface ot
soft mud, but stable sand) bottom ls usually deficient
In food, loose sand drifts and covers tho oysters, and
very soft mud Ingulfs nnd stifles them or produces In
ferior elongate stock. Mud naturally too soft may bo
utilized by distributing over It shells, sand, or othor ma
terial, which, resting on or near tho surfneo, furnishes
a firm foundation upon which tho growing oystor may
repose in security. For spat-collecting it Is frequently
advantageous to use hnrd mud, gravel, or rocky bottom
In shonl water, 111 adapted to adult oysters from de
ficiency of food. Tho bottom being properly prepared
nnd its boundaries marked with stnkes or buoys, either
system may bo adopted to nccord with circumstancos.
Generally seed-planting Is moro certain In Its results and
yields quicker returns to tho grower. Secd-oystorB vary
from "blisters" one-half Inch In diameter to Individuals
almost ready for market, but ordinarily they are between
one und three Inches long. They are obtained from plant
ers making a specialty of seed production or from natural
beds, their cost varying from ten cents to $1 per bushol,
the larger pullod stock, sepatate, well shaped, nnd freo
from rubbish, bringing hlghor prices aud giving tba best