Sober Island Oyster

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Sober Island Oyster

The Sober Island oyster (of the Crassostrea virginica species) has a small to medium sized shell with a fairly deep cup. The shell is greenish in color and relatively smooth in texture. The taste of the fresh oyster is similar to fresh urchin. There is a high level of salinity and a pleasing fattiness. The lingering aftertaste is that of a soft ripened cheese such as Brie or Camembert.   Oyster beds have been continuously found for thousands of years, first noted by the indigenous Mi’kmaq people, and later by European settlers. In Nova Scotia oysters can be found in sheltered beds and river mouth locations along the Northumberland Shore, the Bra d’Or Lakes of Cape Breton and in a few very isolated areas on the Eastern and Southern Shores. Collected from the wild by the Mi’kmaq and settlers alike, cultivated or “farmed” production of oysters in Canada began in the early 1800s.   Until the early 1990s there was a large enclosed body of stagnant fresh water on Sober Island called the Sober Island Pond. During a great storm of 1994, a hole was blown into the pond about 60 meters wide, and it was flooded with ocean water. Soon afterward the residents began to notice marine life beginning to grow within the pond, first mussels and then oysters. Today, about 2000 oysters are harvested form this area per week, depending on weather conditions, that are then sold directly or wholesale.   Given the isolated nature of favorable oyster growing regions in Nova Scotia, each area possesses its own unique marine environment (salinity, temperature, tidal shifts, mineral/chemical composition and differing mixes of water-born flora and fauna). This in turn, leads to the oysters of each area expressing its own “merroir” in both the external shape/structure of the oyster shell, and, most importantly, in the taste of the oyster. Anything that alters or destroys this unique environment will put this product at risk. On Sober Island, oysters face competition from mussels, sea squirts (tunicates) and the European green crab, an invasive species. In addition, pollution from industrial operations or municipal waste can negatively affect the water quality. 

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Fish, sea food and fish products

Indigenous community:Mi’kmaq