First Light Oysters as First Responders

First Light Oysters as First Responders

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Writer Elise Hugus chats with First Light Oysters farm manager Kris Clark for an Edible Cape Cod story.
Writer Elise Hugus chats with First Light Oysters farm manager Kris Clark for an Edible Cape Cod story.

It’s not often that a science story will work in a food magazine. It makes about as much sense as a recipe in a science journal. But when it comes to local food—or the lack thereof— a little chemistry and biology helps tell the story.

Much of our work in the past few years has revolved around Cape Cod’s nitrogen crisis, which has wreaked havoc on shellfish habitat. Our videos for the Association to Preserve Cape Cod have addressed who is affected, and how shellfish aquaculture might mitigate some of the effects. But until now, we haven’t made the link with the local food movement.

In an article published in the 10th anniversary edition of Edible Cape Cod, Elise Hugus and Daniel Cojanu make the connection between the waste we flush and the food we eat. It might sound gross, but it’s part of nature. And thanks to some innovation by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and Mashpee Shellfish Department, nature might just have a solution for mankind’s excesses.

In First Responders to the Nitrogen Crisis, we tell the story of First Light Oysters, an oyster farm run by the Tribe in Popponesset Bay. As filter-feeders, oysters (and other shellfish) naturally feed on the algae that’s plaguing the bay due to the nitrogen overload. Pairing aquaculture and water quality monitoring, the Tribe is planning a project that will help the bay in the long-term, potentially restoring the conditions threatened by over-development, while providing jobs and a local source of food for all.

Something to think about next time you hit the raw bar…

We’re also bringing this issue to light through our short documentary THE WATERSHED, playing July 27 at the Woods Hole Film Festival, and in our Saving Paradise series with the APCC. Please stay tuned!