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poor from consenting to the spoliation of their oyster beds, which are naturally the finest in the world. They have at length killed the goose for the sake of the golden egg.
Any attempt to find out the figures pertaining to the annual oyster commerce of France is generally abortive. No one knows exactly what these figures are, but, of course, every man forins his own opinion. AN oyster merchant of Rochelle, doing business with the growers of the adjacent islands of Oleron and Ré, will say £250,000 per annum, while a Bordeaux skipper, with large ideas, will give figures representing four times that sum. It is unquestionable that there is an iinmense oyster business done in France. Paris alone requires at present a daily supply that, in the course of the season, is said to amount to a hundred millions, and the large provincial towns all consume in proportion. Countless numbers are, besides, exported, cured, prepared, and pickled. Official figures state that in 1802 the three factors appointed by the government for the sale of oysters in the grand market disposed of 67,836,900, being an increase of twelve and a half millions on the preceding year. We are constantly coming across paragraphs in the provincial newspapers of France about the oyster trade, Lately the Phare de la Manche told us that Paris now requires ten times as many oysters as in 1856, and that they are now double the price; further, that six thousand women get a living during the oyster season in opening oysters alone. The same paper also gave us the astonishing intelligence that huîtres de la Manche were the most esteemed in Paris; that the green oysters of Marennes are not now in demand, except for exportation, and that the Osterul pitted oysters had taken their place. It is certain that Ostend furnishes to Paris about three million oysters per annum; there are official figures to that effect. There has been also published a cluster of reliable figures about the oyster grounds of Arcachon, in which it is stated that the oyster grounds of the basin, including the royal parks on either side of the bank of La Hillon, occupy space to the extent of twelve hundred acres. A stock of over two millions of breeding oysters was laid down in the royal grounds, and there yielded an enormous amount of spat. A portion of the two millions, viz., five hundred thousand, laid down in 1863, is said to havo yielded young to the extent of seren nillions! If this statement be correct as to a fortieth part of the mother stock, what would the total yield be? It would, in fact, be too enormous for igures to express it.
Everybody has heard about the immense fecundity of the oyster, and to yield such supplies as are indicated by the above figures the animal would require to be very prolific. The writer has seen a little branch, taken from an artificial bed, which contained a few thousands, and he has seen many common tiles with hundreds of oysters on each. The Whitstable of France is on the Ile de Ré, where may be seen a few thousand oyster parcs and also a few hundred claires, or fattening ponds, and hundreds of thousands of oysters in all stages of growth, from the size of a pin's head to a crown piece. One of the many difficulties which the French oyster-growers have had to solve is the construction of a proper medium for the reception of the spat. Every kind of material has been tried-branches of trees, logs of wood, fragments of rock, and now tiles made of clay are being extensively used, and with the greatest possiblo success. At Arcachon a hire of an ingenious kind, that is, a suite of small boxes filled with gravel, and contained in a larger box, was tried, and was found to suit very well. The best of all bottoms could be constructed in the pocs by the filling into them of the numerous shell midl. diens that are to be found in some of the fishing places. The formation
of new pares and claircs still goes on at the French seaboard, new concessions of ground for that purpose being frequently made, and a tour to most of the fishing places gives the idea of the future wealth to be obtained from this source, more especially when the natural and economic history of the ovster comes to be more thoroughly knowu.
We are indebted to W. C. Lodge, of Delaware, for facts concerning
OYSTERS OF TIIE CHESAPEAKE-TIIEIR PROPAGATION AND CULTURE.
Oysters are found in most of the saline waters of the world, where tides flow and ebb, except in the extremes of temperature, but they attain a condition of perfection, as regards size and quality, only in the waters of temperate and semi-tropical climates.
Natural beds of oysters exist in moderately deep water, generally from seven to thirty feet, according to the climate, the character of the bottom, and other conditions favorable or otherwise for breeding, and the growth and preservation of the young. They are located near the coast, at the mouths of rivers, or in the semi-fresh waters of the bays. Natural beds exist in isolated patches or clusters of indefinite extent and varied thickness. Those on the coast are found in indentations or sheltered localities, as the exposed portions of the ocean are subject to snch agitations from violent winds, that the sand or mud of the bottoms is disturbed to such a degrec as sometimes to cover the oysters. This is destructive to the young, and even old and perfectly grown oysters will eventually perish when covered by sand or mud. The more tranquil the water, other things being equal, the more prolific and flourishing the beds.
Oysters, as regards both growth and quality, are influenced by the condition of the water in which they exist. Those on the Atlantic coast, in the unmitigated salt of the ocean waters, are small and too salt for use, while in the neighboring bays and at the mouths of the rivers, where the out-going fresh water mingles with that of the sea, the oyster attains its greatest size and best flavor.
The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries afford the most favorable conditions for the natural growth of the oyster, as well as all needful facilities for its artificial propagation and culture. Located in the proper temperature, its bottoms of sand and rock, its abundant produce of sea-moss as a home and breeding place, its waters tempered in degrees of saltness to suit all varieties, and its numerous fresh-water streams, bringing down in their floods a continuous supply of food and other requirements, render the bay superior, in its oyster grounds, to any body of water on this continent or perhaps in the world.
From Kent Island, within twenty-five miles of Baltimore, to Cape Henry, a distance of one hundred and forty miles, the bottom of the bay is, with slight exceptions, a continuous oyster bed. All the fresh. water streams that empty into the bay within the above-named limits are stocked, either naturally or artificially, with oysters, as far up) toward their sources as the infuence of the salt water extends.
Area of the oyster beds.-The area of the oyster beds of the Chesapeako and its tributaries may be safely estimated at three thousand square miles. There is, however, great inequality in the quantity of bivalves scattered over the bottoms. in some places they are so few as to render fishing for them unremunerative, though such are exceptions rather than the general rule; while, in other portions of the bay, they increase so rapidly, that many perish from the weight by suffocation or for want of food.
The oyster business. Some idea of the magnitude of the oyster business of the Chesapeake may be obtained from the reports of the oyster commission, created by the State of Virginia and of Maryland.
The bay is divided into two departments, and each has its proper police regulations. The Baltimore department, which includes less than one-half the oyster fisheries, reports an annual average of eleven million bushels, taken in the legitimate way of dredging and tonging. The reports of both departments aggregate from twenty million to twenty-five million bushels, which are only an approximation to the quantity actually taken. This report does not include the oysters taken from private beds or plantations, owned by the residents on the islands and the shores of the bay and rivers, who do not regularly engage in the trade, but cultivate them for their own uses; nor the numbers taken by the halfpiratical “pongys," canoes, (Fig. 3,) and other small craft that contin. ually depredate upon the beds without the required license. *
In the city of Baltimore seventy houses are engaged in the oyster business, mostly in canning for exportation, while at various points in the bay are establishments (Fig. 1) that employ from fifty to four hundred hands each, during the season, in opening and canning, (Fig. 2.) .
By the official reports there are fifteen thousand persons engaged in the business of oyster fishing, (Fig. 4,) and a fleet of one thousand seven hundred vessels of fifty tons burden, and over three thousand smaller crafts, are duly licensed for the trade.
Besides the regular transactions that come under the cognizance of the commission, there are numbers of men and vessels employed in procuring plants” from various places abroad for the artificial beds, and there is a population of 20,000 persons, on the islands and mainland, with whom oysters form an article of general consumption throughout the season.
Oyster fishing.-The implements used in oyster fishing are few and simple in construction. They are the dredge, the tongs, and the fork (Fig. 5.) The dredge is used on the natural beds, in deep water. It is an iron net set in pear-shaped iron frames, and furnished with teeth so arranged as to tear the oysters from the beds, and gather them into the net as it is drawn over the bottom by the vessel, to which it is attached by means of a long rope. It weighs about one hundred and fifty pounds, and is drawn on board the vessel by a windlass arranged for the purpose. It is designed to hold about three bushels, though it is rarely filled with marketable oysters at one “haul,” When one-fourth of the contents is good oysters, the “haul" is considered a good one. The remaining empty shells are cast back into the water. The tongs are composed of two iron rakes attached to long wooden poles, with an axle 'set near the rakes. The fisher leans over the side of his boat, and handles this tool with ease in water from two to eight feet deep (Fig. 4.) It is used chiefly on planted beds. The fork is composed of ten or twelve tines, or prongs, set near one another, and fixed to a long, stout handle. It is used for fishing in shallow water, on beds where oysters are entangled in sea-moss, and the fisher generally wades in the water in order to manage it easily.
The plants and planting grounds. - The plants are gathered in the months of August, September, and October, chiefly along the Atlantic coast, particularly on the coast of the Carolinas, where exist prolific beds of oysters too salt for general use. In their native beds these oysters do not attain any considerable size, but transported into the semi-fresh waters of the Chesapeake, they grow rapidly, fatten, and become more fresh and consequently edible. The plants measure from