0800 | Monday, April 11th, 2022
It’s dead low tide this morning and you’ve decided to take advantage of the glass calm conditions. Exiting Norwalk Harbor, you make way down the Southwest channel and out into Sheffield Harbor.
Have you ever wondered what all of those thin stakes sticking out of the water are? Speckling many of Connecticut’s quieter harbors, these stakes topically mark what is a complex blueprint of seabed real estate – imagine the stonewalls that indelibly divide the New England landscape, only underwater. Depending upon the tides, they’ll be protruding enough to make you look twice or be poaching just beneath the surface. Some are grouped closely; others are seemingly lonely and rogue. They mark boundaries for the age-old reefs that our favorite bivalve calls home – the oyster.
Historically known as “Oyster Town”, Norwalk, Connecticut and the surrounding coast has a long, tasty history thanks to this salt-water mollusk. As far back as the early 1600’s, records show traces of oyster trading and consumption. And to this day, these oyster havens are not only grandfathered in and protected but given generational land rights to those whose ancestors originally staked claim to them hundreds of years ago.
Oh yes, on the topic of Oysters, aside from the obvious gastronomic craze, these creatures are involved in useful activities such as water purification and providing refuge for other aquatic life, thus touting the homeostatic relationship that is evolution. In fact, were it not for massive construction endeavors in most coastal areas, one wouldn’t need to look any further then beneath their own feet – most all of the ground would be middens – discarded oyster shells or as they’re otherwise known as, archaeological garbage dumps.
Interestingly enough, recent studies show that [low frequency] underwater noise pollution affects the oyster’s circadian rhythm, and perception of the weather. This phenomenon may induce premature spawning which would have obvious impact on the harvest market to say the least.
Although these oyster reef stakes won’t sink your boat if you whack one, both your vessel and the ecosystem might thank you for avoiding them all together – steer clear of the stakes!