Though oysters have been commercially sold in Apalachicola for more than 175 years, cultivation of oysters by introducing oyster shells near natural beds to encourage juvenile oysters (commonly referred to as “spat”) to settle did not take place until around 1918. This process of active cultivation, coupled with the increasingly wide-spread use of pasteurization and arrival of the Apalachicola Northern Railroad, were primary factors in the development of the oyster harvesting industry in Franklin County.
Over 2.6 million pounds of oyster meat is harvested annually. Today, oystering is a way of life for an estimated 1300 area families—many third or fourth generation oystermen—whose hand-harvesting traditions have not changed in 150 years. Because the oystering industry plays a vital role in the area’s history and economy, several area providers offer guided oystering tours.
|Captain Doug culls through|
the oysters we just raked up!
Captain Doug takes out his tongs and illustrates how it’s done and performs the same task that the cullers around us are doing, sorting through and separate clusters of oysters throwing back those that are too small to meet the required size of 3 inches—Captain Doug explains that measure is easy because his ‘fanger’ is about the same length as the minimum size of allowable oyster.
|They don't get any fresher than right off Capt. Doug's boat.|
Regulations require harvesters to have their bags of oysters in by a certain time each day so that the oysters can be chilled down quickly to just the right temperature that keeps them fresh while still alive until right before they are to be eaten.