How this Southern California shellfish farm is saving the setting

View of the lagoon from Carlsbad Aquafarm — Photo courtesy of Marla Cimini

Seafood lovers and conservation fanatics visiting San Diego’s North County can now take part in a singular guided tour of a state-of-the-art aquafarm, the place you’ll be able to find out about coastal sustainability – and afterwards, get an oyster-shucking lesson and tasting whereas overlooking a tranquil lagoon.

The Carlsbad Aquafarm is an modern facility located on the picturesque Agua Hedionda Lagoon within the coastal city of Carlsbad. Helping to protect the Southern California wetlands and clear the ocean, this aquafarm harvests over two million kilos of shellfish yearly and is devoted to sharing its message of sustainability with guests who tour this eco-friendly and engaging operation.

As the one aquafarm in Southern California, this facility was established over 30 years in the past, however it wasn’t till 2021 that the farm opened its doorways to small group excursions. Guests (with ticketed reservations) can now get a uncommon, firsthand take a look at this intriguing vacation spot. While on website, guests acquire some information about how this shellfish farm is rising biodiversity within the space by cleansing the water and defending the coast from the damaging influence of the ocean’s rising ranges.

Oysters and mussels at the AquafarmOysters and mussels on the Aquafarm — Photo courtesy of Marla Cimini

This farm grows and harvests shellfish from the lagoon, that are offered to on to customers and native companies by means of a distributor. The species farmed listed here are Pacific oysters (referred to as Carlsbad blondes) and Mediterranean mussels, (known as Carlsbad mussels). About 750 million gallons of seawater flows by means of the lagoon from the Pacific Ocean day by day, bringing vitamins to feed the shellfish and preserve the lagoons clear.

Considered “filter feeders,” shellfish subsist by consuming algae and different small, natural particles from the lagoon. The Carlsbad Aquafarm’s course of ends in contemporary oysters and mussels for customers, in addition to a further optimistic influence: wholesome, clear water, enabling the lagoon’s eelgrass beds to develop, and guaranteeing that the wetlands’ plentiful wildlife thrives.

This was the primary oyster farm to characteristic an ingenious “depuration and purification” course of, which includes immersing the oysters in triple-filtered seawater as soon as they attain full dimension. This ensures that the oysters are a totally secure, top-quality scrumptious shellfish product.

Tour guide Sophia Martinez at the aquafarmTour information Sophia Martinez on the aquafarm — Photo courtesy of Marla Cimini

The tour informs guests of the farm’s processes each step of the way in which and demonstrates how one-inch-sized oysters are positioned in a number of trays (every holding about 60 oysters) and stacked underwater for roughly six months as they develop. Suspended above the seafloor in anchored buoys, the shellfish are protected against predators and ultimately harvested after reaching “market size,” between two and 5 inches.

At that time, the bivalves are transferred to tanks for a triple filtration course of that gives a radical cleansing. Conversely, mussels are farmed barely otherwise, and as a substitute cling to fibrous “ropes” that are suspended underwater till harvested.

Most importantly, the aquafarm additionally helps the native biodiverse waterfront by working with town of Carlsbad, and partnering with analysis universities, together with the Wrigley Marine Lab on the University of Southern California. They additionally conduct aquaponic vegetable farming experiments on-site all year long.

Rachael Taylor, the tour director of the Carlsbad Aquafarm, says that the Carlsbad Aquafarm is dedicated to producing high-quality seafood, and sells about 11,000 kilos every week by way of particular person farm pick-ups, in addition to by means of native distribution. She identified that the aquafarm isn’t thought-about a big operation and they’re devoted to conserving the ocean’s sources by their sustainable farming practices.

She says, “We are a very small company, and we are choosing to stay that way, as this keeps us sustainable as well. Simply put, farming oysters and mussels truly enhances the environment and greatly improves the health of our coastal waters.”

Shellfish tank at aqua farmShellfish tank at aqua farm — Photo courtesy of Marla Cimini

Tayor hopes a go to to the aquafarm will encourage vacationers to the world to find out about ocean conservation and sustainability in SoCal. “I love telling the Carlsbad Aquafarm story to my tour guests – locals or tourists. You can see how their understanding of the growing process changes their view on oysters and mussels. We hope they take this understanding with them through all of their consumer choices, to choose sustainably grown food that supports the local ecosystem and the local economy.”

Oysters and mussels in the touch tankOysters and mussels within the contact tank — Photo courtesy of Marla Cimini

In addition, the Carlsbad Aquafarm additionally donates used oyster shells to native charitable organizations, artists and sustainable companies all year long. So far in 2022, they’ve donated over 300 cubic yards of shells, together with some for a challenge with the San Diego Zoo together with the Navy Seals. It’s designed to develop the inhabitants of two endangered species of shorebird: the California least tern and the western snowy plover.

She talked about that just a few years in the past, the farm donated to The Bay of San Diego for conservation efforts; and in early June 2022, they gave shells to a neighborhood farm for calcium dietary supplements for hen feed.

According to Taylor, future plans are within the works inside the subsequent few years for the aquafarm’s future enlargement, together with a doable market, reward store and oyster tastings with out requiring a tour ticket.

Tour the farm and study to shuck oysters

Tour guide Sophia Martinez demos oyster shucking to guest Andrea CiminiTour information Sophia Martinez demos oyster shucking to visitor Andrea Cimini — Photo courtesy of Marla Cimini

The Carlsbad Aquafarm hosts small group excursions day by day (of about 12 folks), with an skilled information offering an inside look into the farm’s whole operation and why it’s such a singular, environmentally pleasant operation.

This hour-long outside guided tour is a simple stroll throughout the property, with an in-depth description of the amenities; a possibility to carry oysters and mussels within the contact tank, ranging in dimension from minuscule to jumbo; glimpses of the purification methods’ know-how and an added bonus of being surrounded by nature and waterfront vistas.

Author Marla Cimini and sister Andrea Cimini tasting oystersAuthor Marla Cimini and sister Andrea Cimini tasting oysters — Photo courtesy of Marla Cimini

Our tour information, Sophia Martinez, was extraordinarily educated and supplied an abundance of details about the native ecosystems. She confirmed us the interior workings of the farm and answered all of our questions. At the tip of the tour, she introduced our small group to a shady outside patio and gave us a stay, very detailed oyster-shucking tutorial and eagerly helped a few of us attempt to rigorously open the shellfish ourselves.

Gloves and knives are supplied, and provides are positioned atop barrel-style tables, so tour members have their very own area. Our group particularly loved tasting six contemporary, delectable oysters every, whereas overlooking the lagoon.

Carlsbad Aquafarm ticket information

The Carlsbad Aquafarm’s tour may be very fashionable, so reservations are required on-line for the one-hour guided go to ($35 per particular person). Wear a hat, convey sunblock and a bottle of water, as you might be (principally) outdoors within the solar for this expertise.

If you want to style the mussels and oysters with out the tour, no downside! You can nonetheless benefit from the shellfish by way of on-line pre-orders. Freshness is assured, as a result of as soon as the order is confirmed, the oysters can be prepared for pick-up inside two hours, and they are going to be out of the water for a short ten minutes. Visit the website for pricing and details.

Where to remain in Carlsbad, CA

Cape Rey Carlsbad Beach, a Hilton Resort and Spa

This beautiful beachfront resort is in a primary location in Carlsbad and residential to a big swimming pool space and an off-the-cuff restaurant with waterfront views and an intensive menu of specialties. Some rooms have balconies and face the ocean.

The Cassara Carlsbad, Tapestry Collection by Hilton

Overlooking Carlsbad’s well-known flower fields, this resort is located a couple of minutes’ drive from the middle of city (often known as “The Village”). It contains a beautiful pool space, and it’s very near Legoland, quite a lot of eating places and buying.


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