Thoughts From An Oyster

Words by Evan Gough
Photos by Hans Peter Meyer

Most of you don’t know much about us. You like to talk like you do, gazing at each other over the plate. There’s more to us than nature’s Viagra.

We’re old—much older than your species. We’ve been here for over 150 million years, we’ve seen many species come and go during our time, but we’ve stayed safe in the water, each one of us in our own tiny fortress. Between tides we’ve watched you.

How hungry did the first person have to be to eat us? You would think the Earth would have been scraped clean of other food sources before your eyes settled on us. But that’s not how it was. Maybe you suspected, and rightly so, that something hidden behind such an impregnable shell must be a treasure.

What a treasure we are. A glistening delicacy, cherished throughout the ages and across the globe as a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and protein. Our amino acids trigger increased levels of your sex hormones—as if your species needed any help in that area, but more than all of that, we’re simply delicious.

Word spread quickly after you finally opened one of us up, dozens of you jumping up and down on the beach, laughing and shrieking at the discovery. You had revealed the treasure inside. We’ve become the centerpiece of a local festival that celebrates not only our flesh as a rich food source, but the successful and sustainable farming of our species in the warm, protected waters of Baynes Sound. A festival that celebrates community itself and the mariculture that helps our shared existence prosper.

We create community ourselves you know. We are a foundation species, a tireless army of ecological engineers, individually filtering up to 50 gallons of water a day. As we clean the water, we allow more sunlight to reach aquatic plants, the plants in turn create rich habitat for other species. Life flourishes.

While humans have embraced our cultivation and consumption wholeheartedly, some of us cling stubbornly to our rocks to avoid being taken. Others among us say we should be happy to be cultivated in such abundance, to be such a celebrated, enjoyable part of so much amorous activity. We certainly stand alone among molluscs as far as mystique goes. Sad is the suitor that offers a young lady a single, forlorn mussel with that shabby bit of beard hanging sadly from it.

Appealing to the partnership we share with you, cherished and chosen as we are, remember us for our service both to your stomachs and the seas. When you sit all outstretched at the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival, and the laughter rings out, our fates will be intertwined. A delicious last laugh that we can share together.


Category: Volume 2