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7 Years After BP Oil Spill, Oyster Farming Takes Hold In South

The Zirlott family’s oyster plantation is during a finish of a prolonged post in Sandy Bay. Legend has it that a name “Murder Point” comes from a lethal brawl over an oyster franchise during this site behind in 1929.

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The Zirlott family’s oyster plantation is during a finish of a prolonged post in Sandy Bay. Legend has it that a name “Murder Point” comes from a lethal brawl over an oyster franchise during this site behind in 1929.

Debbie Elliott/NPR

Eight miles down a mud highway by a swamps of southwest Alabama, Lane Zirlott has 1.8 million oysters in a H2O during his family’s plantation in Sandy Bay.

“What we’ve been doing is perplexing to redefine what people are meditative of a Southern cove oyster,” Zirlott says.

Why The Southeast Could Become The Napa Valley Of Oysters

The Murder Point oyster plantation covers about dual and half acres in a bay. The name altered from “Myrtle Point” in 1929, after a lethal brawl over oyster territory.

“Two group got in an evidence over rights to a lease. One man come behind that afternoon and killed a other guy. And so from that time brazen they called it Murder Point,” Zirlott says. “So we kind of adopted a name and put it with a tab line ‘oysters value murdering for.'”

There are 10 prolonged rows of timber post and PVC piping. Oblong oyster baskets hang from lines strung between them.

The plantation uses a Australian prolonged line system. The oysters grow off-bottom in baskets that are strung between wooden post and PVC pipes.

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Zirlott explains that this is called a Australian prolonged line system. “We have a oysters unresolved in line with a line that’s using down pipes,” he says.

Wave movement tumbles a oyster baskets, that can be positioned adult and down a H2O column, and pulled out to dry so barnacles won’t attach.

If it’s a ease day, like this one, farmers wade into a chest-deep H2O to manually shake a oyster baskets.

Zirlott says that movement is key. It knocks a edges off a shell, gripping it some-more compress and forcing a oyster inside to grow low and plump, instead of far-reaching and flat.

“We found that a petite oyster was a approach to go,” he says. “Deep cupped. Two-and-a-half, 3 inches max. Perfect small one-shot oyster.”

All of Zirlott’s oysters are unfailing for a reward half-shell marketplace – display adult on tender bar menus alongside some-more obvious farmed oysters from a East and West coasts. His clients embody smart spots in Houston and New Orleans.

Murder Point oysters are petite and plump, with a tainted and buttery taste. They’re dictated for a reward half-shell market.

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Murder Point oysters are petite and plump, with a tainted and buttery taste. They’re dictated for a reward half-shell market.

Debbie Elliott/NPR

The Gulf oyster attention suffered a blow during a 2010 BP oil spill. And while furious oyster harvesting from reefs is behind in business, a attention is still not adult to pre-spill levels.

Off-bottom farming, in that a oysters rest in floating aquaculture cages instead of on a murky bottom, has taken off since. There were no oyster farms in a Gulf of Mexico in 2009. Now there are dozens from Louisiana to Florida, according to Auburn University sea scientist Bill Walton. He’s also famous as “Dr. Oyster” since he spawns oysters during a Dauphin Island Sea Lab on a Alabama coast.

Walton pours a bucket of larvae into a large blue tank.

“The fertilized egg that we put into this tank, within a day it’s a swimming maggot that indeed has to eat, and it’s swimming around and has got a stomach,” Walton says. “I meant it’s a critter.”

The hatchery produces oyster seed to sell to farmers. Louisiana State University has a identical program.

Walton says a attention is still immature and exposed to a same threats and army of inlet that furious oysters face. Last year a damaging algal freshness close down harvesting.

Auburn University sea scientist Bill Walton, aka “Dr. Oyster,” spawns oysters during a Dauphin Island Sea Lab on a Alabama coast.

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Auburn University sea scientist Bill Walton, aka “Dr. Oyster,” spawns oysters during a Dauphin Island Sea Lab on a Alabama coast.

Debbie Elliott/NPR

But he’s carefree it can be an choice for people looking to make a vital on a coast.

“Even in 2008, 2009 we had people before a oil brief who weren’t sure,” he says. “Do we tell your teenage son or daughter to go into shrimping? But we don’t wish to pierce divided and we don’t wish to leave your family, so how do we … stay vital in your village operative on a water?”

For Zirlott, a 5th era blurb fisherman, oyster tillage was a approach behind home.

“We shrimp from a Texas-Mexican limit as distant as Virginia during times. And so we had to be gone,” he says.

But after his dual children were born, he wanted a change.

“It was time for me to be home,” says Zirlott. “But what to do?”

His mom took an aquaculture category and got a family to try oyster tillage about 3 years ago. Now Murder Point is looking to double in distance and open a possess hatchery. Zirlott says he’s enlivening his children to get degrees in biology.

An oyster grading appurtenance sorts immature oysters on a post during Murder Point.

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An oyster grading appurtenance sorts immature oysters on a post during Murder Point.

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“I’m looking to keep a tradition alive though by new complicated ways to do it,” he says.

He touts Murder Points as a ultimate farm-to-table food, and uses amicable media to marketplace with a hashtag #Butterlove. That’s for a flavor.

“When we get past a salt … we start to get a abounding buttery aftertaste,” says Zirlott.

Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse’s Instagram recently featured a shot of an iced-down platter of tender oysters he was carrying during Fisher’s Restaurant in Orange Beach, Ala. They were Murder Points.