July 28, 2009: Spawn Party


It's been hot and dry for weeks, the water has warmed up, and the oysters are starting to spawn.  And this is actually a really good thing, because although we do buy oyster seed, we rely on natural "sets" to maintain the farm's oyster population and genetic diversity. As Teresa puts it, the fact that the estuary is right now glowing fluorescent white with oyster spawn is "job security."

spawn spawn2

To clarify: it's the spawn that looks tropical, not the Canal. Normally the Canal is a dark, beautiful blue. The fertilized eggs will form larvae and swim around in the Canal for the next couple of weeks before settling down and growing shells (a process called spatfall). During the larval stage oysters are highly susceptible to cold water, so we're really hoping that there isn't a big south wind, which would bring cold water to the surface and potentially kill off the oyster larvae. We're having some internal disagreement about the meaning of the word "spat." Two of us think spat refers to the fertilized larvae, the product of sperm and eggs that were "spat out" by the adult oysters. Another thinks that spat refers to oyster seed. Fortunately, according to this online dictionary, all of us are correct:


1. The spawn of an oyster or similar shellfish.

2. Young oysters collectively.

3. A young oyster.

4. Seed oysters.

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