03 March 2017

Clear waters and small oysters

When I was on the Carolina coast in February, I was happy to see that the waters of Bogue Sound, on the Morehead City shore, were so crystal clear. This is a shore I've walked along for 65 years, and I remember times when the water didn't look so good.

Maybe one of the reasons for the water's sparkle is the oysters that live in it. They filter out a lot of stuff that would otherwise make it cloudy. I'm starting to understand why they call the area the Crystal Coast.

The small, wild oysters of the North Carolina sounds and estuaries grow in clumps along the shore. They're called "cluster" oysters, or even "racoon oysters" — supposedly, only a racoon would have the patience, and be hungry enough, to pry them open them and eat them. However, I know from experience that they are very tasty.

One year, nearly 25 years ago, my mother came to California to spend Christmas with me and Walt. When she arrived at the airport, among her pieces of luggage was a pale blue plastic tub that was taped tightly shut. When we got it home, I opened it and found about a bushel of those North Carolina cluster oysters inside. It was a Christmastime treat.

Opening the oysters was not a problem — I just set them on a pan in a hot oven and covered them with a wet kitchen towel. In a few minutes they were steamed through and they just popped open. We and the friends we had invited for Christmas dinner mightily enjoyed slurping them down with melted butter and cocktail sauce.


  1. Ohhh, the water looks so nice.
    I enjoyed that Christmas oysters memory :)

  2. When I was in Morehead City in November we stayed at an RV park out on highway 24. It has a small pier, and I walked out on it every morning. I noticed how clean the water is. I was thinking perhaps clean water regulations were responsible. But the fact that there are more oysters makes sense! I know there are groups that work to put oyster substrates back into the sound.

    I am currently visiting my son in McMinnville, Oregon. It is an hour from the coast, but I have not been yet. After reading your post, I may have to drive over, since I now have a craving for oysters!

  3. The water looks beautiful and clear. Is that last picture from a pier or lifeguard stand? The sand looks nice and white.

    I wonder if your mom would be able to get those oysters through airport security these days.


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