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August has come and gone in a flash, as usual. With it has come (but not yet quite gone) the usual battle of dealing with gear fouling, which is always the worst this time of year.

Fouling on one of my bottom cages. Not pictured: all the oysters inside also covered with this particular species of invasive tunicate.

"Fouling" is a term in aquaculture that refers to all the OTHER things that like to hitch a ride and grow on either the oysters or the gear we use in the growing process. Fouling includes everything from an array of different algae to other shellfish like baby mussels, etc. It makes for a very heavy and sloppy month, with lots of air-drying and scraping and brushing and rotating gear around.

The later part of August also includes a lot of work with this year's oyster seed, which has exponentially increased in volume from the 3mm size at which it arrived on the farm. The biggest of the bunch (of which there are a lot this year!) are already over an inch. This rapid growth requires a lot of time and attention from me, because the oysters are also very influenced at this time by how well I take care of them - left to grow like crazy and become overcrowded in their gear will leave me with a bunch of misshapen, long skinny oysters which I've found to be something that they will carry through with them to maturity. So, in order to grow the nice round end product that I'm looking for, I'm always trying my

Seed looking huge and happy and ready for dividing again 😅

hardest to get the babies graded and spread out into more gear as frequently as I can. This year I'm growing more seed then ever, so keeping up with the little ones has been no small task!

And of course, all the other oysters on the farm, especially those that were seed last year, and growing like crazy and getting fouled up too, which means there's been a long rotation of gear swapping around the farm happening - oysters going into the batch of clean gear, then the gear they

came out of sitting out of water in the sun for a few days to kill off the fouling, then repeat. It's not the most efficient process, but it works for me for now. It's fun to be circling back to the

Next year's lovely round oysters.

one year old oysters this time of year after not really seeing much of them since the spring. This year I made an effort to stock them very very lightly in their floating bags, hoping to accomplish two things - less work for me this time of year, (no need to divide and spread all those oysters out mid season), and nice, round, well-shaped oysters that have had all the room in the world to grow nice and evenly. From what I'm seeing as I go around and swap them into clean gear, it seems that I have accomplished that particular goal, which is exciting. Always experimenting with and tweaking my operations to improve quality and efficiency takes some time and energy, but it also always seems to pay off! Next task will be starting to think about getting ready for winter (can you believe it).

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