Farm, plant and hatchery: The Taylor Shellfish experience
Bill Taylor, president of Taylor Shellfish Co., led a tour of its operations in Puget Sound following the SeaWeb Seafood Summit, which was held in nearby Seattle. Taylor explains how the company monitors water and product quality at its farm in Totten Inlet.
New Zealand native Gordon King, director of mussel farming, talked about the 20-year approval process to begin mussel farming in Totten Inlet, noting that a similar project nearby took only months to approve once the initial process was complete. The company works hard to build the social license necessary to operate in homeowners' backyards.
Upon close inspection you can see tiny mussels, attached to ropes, beginning to grow. It takes roughly 18 months for mussels to reach market size once placed in the water.
Taylor has seeded a beach in Totten Inlet with Pacific oysters, geoduck clams and Manila clams. It's also cultivating singles in oyster bags on the shore. A crew tends to the bags as rain clouds pass overhead.
A close-up look at one of the Pacific oysters that has set on the beach of Totten Inlet. The oysters had recently spawned, but were still suitable for eating. The company explained in depth how triploid oysters –those with three sets of chromosomes versus two – had enabled growers to offer a quality product year-round.
The oyster bags help keep the oysters from attaching to one another, protect the shellfish from predators and allow a natural "tumbling" process to occur with the tidal flows. Tumbling dulls the growth of the fluted edge of the oyster, allowing the shell to grow a deep cup and greater meat fill, which is obviously popular with half-shell aficionados.
Bill Taylor, in his natural habitat. Thanks for the great tour, Bill.
The cloud cover starts to break up over Totten Inlet, Wash.
Bill Taylor digs into the sand to unearth a handful of Manila clams, one of the company's popular items.
Audrey Lamb, biological project manager, talks about how the company uses a plentiful resource to create new shellfish habitats. These bundles of dried oyster shells are the perfect foundation for juvenile oysters.
Always trying new tools to cultivate shellfish, Taylor recently experimented with these rubber coupelles, which act as a condominium of sorts for the oysters to settle on. The method, Lamb explained, is originally from France.
Crates of delicious Skigoku oysters cleaned and ready to be shipped to raw bars and restaurants throughout the region.
Oysters roll down a conveyor belt to be separated, graded, cleaned and processed for their meat.
At Taylor Shellfish's hatchery in Quilcene Bay, baby geoducks start to set into the sand. These little guys are a few months from being strong enough to be planted for grow-out on the beach, perhaps in Totten Inlet.
Scallops are another shellfish species that Taylor is looking into growing. A researcher holds up a freshly cleaned specimen for closer examination.
Algae is oyster food! Taylor cultivates seven species of algae that will feed baby shellfish during the nursery stage of development.
Rhonda Elliot, hatchery research technician at Taylor Shellfish, explains how the company is working to improve the survival rates of its shellfish.
In the end, all of the company's painstaking efforts are worth it when they have baby shellfish nearly ready for the grow-out stages. These baby Pacific oysters are almost ready.
Photographs of a leading U.S. shellfish supplier’s operations in Puget Sound Global Aquaculture Advocate Editor James Wright toured Taylor Shellfish Co. operations in Puget Sound following the SeaWeb Seafood Summit, which was held in nearby Seattle. Taylor, one of the leading U.S. shellfish suppliers, offered conference attendees an up-close look at its farming, processing and…