By Linda Hunter
It was wonderful to see so many stalwart and budding ostreophiles at our annual event Bubbles & Bivalves last week. Oyster connoisseurs know that oysters are delicious and, arguably, the planet’s most sustainable fishery. But as Rowan Jacobsen, our keynote, pointed out, the history of civilization can be charted by the vast parade of Homo sapiens who followed the Pacific Coast in search of the easily accessible and nutritious oyster. So, in the spirit of reciprocity, we ought to give back to our humble bivalves for sustaining us through the last several hundred thousand years — by giving native oyster spat a place to hang their hats — on a newly constructed oyster reef.
We were so excited to celebrate the birth of the very first oyster reef built and installed though the effort of scores of volunteers!
The Watershed Project set out to build our oyster reef four years ago. They said it couldn’t be done. They said there were not enough resources, people or will, to build a reef using community resources. But they were wrong. There were many challenges — permits required by five different government agencies for one, convincing volunteers that finding a nice low tide in the cold of winter so that one could muck around in the mud in wet suits at 4:00 in the morning would be fun. But The Watershed Project kept talking about the value of bivalves and how bringing native oysters back to our Bay would be great for the ecology of the Bay. Volunteers were convinced. And it was fun.
Volunteers bent over cement mixers shoveling bits of oyster shell and cement — mixing the gloppy mess into molds to make reef balls. 100 of them! And this labor of love is just the beginning. All of our supporters, oyster lovers and ecosystem warriors, are eager to add more reefs and create even more habitat for oysters and lots of other Bay critters who find shelter and food in their new home.
Because we are all connected to our watersheds and the ocean through our food, it was fitting that we were graced with the finest food that renowned Bay Area chefs had to offer at our celebration. A shout out to all the restaurants and wineries who donated their time and talent to make Bubbles & Bivalves a success this year:
Waterbar; Fish; Farallon Restaurant; Epic Roasthouse; 25 Lusk; Saltwater Oyster Depot; Hog Island Oyster Company; Il Cane Rosso; Tomales Bay Oyster Company; Speakeasy Brewery; Domaine Chandon; NoveRoma Wines; Navarro Winery; Handley Cellars; Radio Coteau; Poco Dolce, Three Twins Ice Cream and BiRite Bakery.
Among them, Martin Murray, who wrote a song about our oyster reef, accompanied by an animated video from Violeta Gonzalez and Veronica Balduzzi.
To see the film and hear the song, click here.
It was such a great event! Thank you to everyone for your support and for supporting The Watershed Project’s native oyster restoration efforts – saving the world, one oyster at a time.
Photo credits: Francisco Lux (of fghlux.com)