Few beachcombers on Cape Cod Bay realize that just off shore, clustered within the ripples of sand, an oyster farm grows succulent fruits of the sea. In extreme low tide you can see them. I took this photo at Quivet Neck in Dennis. No sooner did I reach the tip of a finger of exposed sand a hundred yards out into the bay, when the tide rushed in. I trotted back in time to see the sea swallow everything up as it does every twelve hours, every day of the year.
When the tide is low and the crates of oyster incubators mounted above the sand on poles are exposed, it is difficult to tell from shore what the low brown structures could be. They resemble the remains of a wooden vessel or an old pier. But they are part of a sophisticated aquaculture industry on the Cape. Oyster farmers statewide were paid $8.6 million for their crop in 2010, according to the Mass Division of Marine Fisheries.
When high tide robs you of your view of the East Dennis farm, take out your smart phone and look at it from space. Yes, Cape Cod oysters are plainly visible via satellite if you zoom in a bit.
Here is a satellite view of the Bay at the Dennis and Brewster town line, with Paine's Creek landing highlighted by the pink bubble.
See those waves of beige and cerulean blue just above the shoreline? The oyster farm is in there, but you can't see it. Yet.
Let's zoom in.
You're getting warmer.....
They're starting to come into view at the very top but you might think they're rocks or something.
Wait. Since when did rocks lie in perfect grids? See the dots?
There. I marked them. How cool is that?
Had google maps snapped this area of the globe at high tide we would never see the oysters, but here they are, filtering the water and receiving thanks for their hard work by ending up on a bed of ice with lemon wedges on a plate. And to that I say thank goodness. They are so delicious.
I don't know how many places in the world have oysters growing within view of the satellites. But this intersection of aquaculture and outer space strikes me as fascinating. It's yet another wonder of the gift of Cape Cod.
Want to know more about oyster farming? The East Dennis Oyster Company owned by John and Stephanie Lowel produced this video of their operation. Sit back and enjoy. You'll swear you can taste the brine.