Yesterday afternoon we visited the Akkeshi Hatchery & Research Center and learned about the single seed method of hatching oysters. Before this visit, I had never known how oysters were grown, let alone how they even started out, which is disappointing because I love to eat oysters. I never thought of oysters as anything but the mussels inside the shells. Because oysters are creatures that aren’t the typical animal with a face, I never had to think it anything else besides food. So I was actually so shocked and confused when they told us how spats (baby oysters) were little beings that first can swim on their own and then eventually attach to old shredding’s of oyster shells so that they can create their own shell around themselves and grow. I was amazed at the entirety of the process.
Another thing that shocked me was the size of the kakiemon and the other oysters in general. I am from San Francisco and most of the oysters there are from Tamales Bay, which is just North of SF, and are very small in size. So when Takeyama san, the manager at the hatchery, showed us the mother oysters, it wasn’t even twice the size of what I was used to, but maybe quadruplet the size. And when he showed us the oyster that was longer than the size of my face, I couldn’t believe it. When he talked about how when the oyster gets heavier on one of its side so that it starts to sink and elongate was fascinating and sad to hear. There were so many things to oysters that I never would have imagined if not for this experience.
And throughout the tour of the hatchery, I could also not stop thinking about how the process of hatching oysters to getting them to the farmers to being ready to eat was the similar to the book we read in class, Becoming Salmon by Marianne Elisabeth Lien. Like salmon, oysters have different stages in their life that needs care and attention by humans. Oysters rely on humans as much as we rely on them for food. Before the visit and reading the book, it was hard for me to visualize the sweat and tears of the workers who take care of the salmon, but after seeing each room and its responsibilities and the actual spats themselves and the oysters out in Lake Akkeshi, I realized the hard work that came with the development of oysters.
I think that it would be very interesting to go and visit a salmon hatchery or farm or salmon at any stage in their life because of yesterday’s experience.