See what it takes to get an oyster from hatchery to you.
Algae is grown for food to feed the broodstock (mum's and dad's), larvae(15 days of egg life) and spat (baby oysters). The hatchery likes to give them a nutrious diet of 6 different types of algae. It is grown inside lay-flat algae bags at around 20 degrees. The bags are filled up with seawater, nutrients and starter culture for each algae type. Luckily for us oyster farmers we don't have to go to all this trouble. Out on the oyster leases it just all happens naturally. Here you see juvenile oysters (spat) starting their growing cycle in upwellers.
This seems really small but remember they start at the hatchery as the size of a pin head. They are quite large by the time we receive them on our oyster farm to start to grow them for you to buy. Around 4mm.
Now with state of the art grading machines, life is getting easier for the oyster farmer. The oysters are graded 3 - 4 times in their farm life. They are brought into the industrial shed overnight for machine sorting, returning them out to the oyster farm next morning. As they grow bigger we place less in each bag. A spat bag could have as many as 250 oysters in it . By the time we are fattening them for market they have as little as 60 oysters per bag.
Here you can see our juvenile oysters as they would sit in a basket. Not quite big enough for market yet. As with life, the older you are the better you get so we just need to wait a bit longer for these teenagers to reach maturity. Around 2 years of age is when our oysters are mature and ready for market.
Line building is mostly done in the warm days of summer. The tides are nice and low and the weather pleasant. During summer our oysters are in their reproduction cycle and are not ready for consumption until the waters start to cool in March. This gives the oyster farmers time to do line building or repairing from the winter months. We use a fire fighting pump and jet a hole in the sand to put the post in. Our lines look very similar to what the grape growers do except we build our lines in the pristine waters of South Australia.
As with land farming mother nature plays a role in our oyster farming life. Bad weather brings breakages that need to be fixed along the way. Here is one of our farmers mending some clips that have broken off during a storm. Looks perfect today!
Market selling days are here again. These calm days are what we hope for, if only it always looked like this! Our farmers carefully pick out their best product each selling day. Our Food Health Hygiene rules apply even out on the boat. The boats are stacked carefully for some of our farmers travel long distances to their pristine oyster farms.
Machinery has made a big difference to the lives of our oyster farmers. Once upon a time we hand picked each oyster for sale. Now we use automatic grading machines that we program with the size of the oyster that is required that day. It automatically picks them and counts them into hessian bags for refrigerated transport to market. The incorrect size oysters are rebagged to be taken back to the oyster farm for another day.
Coming home from our farms with a full load of oysters on board. The boat ramps are buzzing with activity because some bays have up to 50 individual oyster operations. What a life you think, well we love it. We love supplying those plump premium Pacific Oysters fresh to you.