Akkeshi Tour: Oyster Farms and Hatchery

Akkeshi is a coast on the Eastern part of Hokkaido, about an hour and a half away from Kushiro. This area is known to be part of the Ramsar Site, recognized internationally as an important wetland site under the Ramsar Convention. Today, we went to the the oyster farm owned by カキキン (Kin’s Oyster company).

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Deck of Kin’s Oyster Boat

 

Kin’s Oyster farm has a large area of water organized in transversal lines with buoys lined up. The owner told us that many oyster farms had unorganized and poorly managed farms, until the 3.11.11 tsunami. The effects of that natural disaster had washed away all unorganized debris around the farm, so the government stepped in to help the farmers re-establish an efficient structure that can sustain oysters annually.

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Kin’s Oyster Logo

We started off on a small boat, with wooden planks held together by plastic crates underneath to serve as our seats for the ride. The owner of Kin’s Oyster greeted us and started the engine to show us the ocean side of the water first. This ride was a smooth, fast ride with the wind breezing off our caps. It was a very sunny and chill mini tour of Akkeshi waters. I noticed that the water was light green; it reminded me of the CDOM lecture that our class had listened to at the Akkeshi Marine Station this morning. From my understanding of the lecture is that the colors of the water change according to light-absorbing substances in the ocean. The substance, (chlorophyll) produces carbon with phytoplankton because of photosynthesis. The phytoplankton absorb red and blue due to photosynthesis, and reflects green which makes the ocean appear green. As a result, waters with a lot of phytoplankton will have a green color. In contrast, water without much phytoplankton will have a different color. This part of the tour was a ride in the ocean that is conventionally thought to be “blue” or “beautiful green” in color.

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Akkeshi Marine Station

Next, he turned the boat to direct us towards the lake side. The lake side is where the oyster farm is located. There were two types of farming that Kin’s Oyster conducts. Oysters that grow by being attached on scallop shells, and the other a single-seed method. Fun fact: the latter method is what Kakiemon, a popular brand of Oysters from Akkeshi use.

The water in the farming area was shallow, and the boat had to be stopped multiple times because of the alarm coming from the engine. The owner explained that since there are too many eel grass that gets caught in the engine, he has to constantly remove the plants from the engine in order to safely drive the boat. I looked down to examine the water, and noticed that it was much more “dirty” looking. In other words, the water was very yellow-brown in color. However, I have learned that it is not exactly “dirty” from the lecture. The lake’s water is different from the ocean side, because dissolved organics compounds are in the water from the result of the plants. I have felt that the lectures have helped me notice small changes like this, and understand the in a scientific or ecological way.

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In the end of the tour, we had the opportunity to meet the workers that help clean the oysters that were harvested. They steadily worked on the oysters downstairs, while upstairs a renovation was going on in his soon-to-be-completed oyster bar.

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Oyster Bar under renovation

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