Saturday, April 16, 2016

Quiet time in Cedar Key

We came up to Cedar Key for a few days, and were planning to meet our good friends, John and Diane, from Atlanta, but they had a personal loss in their family and could not come.  Our prayers are with them.  We booked this time a year ago when we came here for the first time, and although the weather hasn't been cooperating completely, we have been having a good, but quiet time.  We are staying at the Low Key Hideaway, a small spot with only 3 RV sites, right on the water.
Our view right from our site
We've gone on a few hikes, saw a baby eagle in a tree scoping things out.
Time for lunch?
The hikes are pretty short here, but the cloudy weather has made it very pleasant for walking.  We went into the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, a few miles away right along the Suwannee River.
A net set out for mullet, we believe

A baby alligator, momma just left!

There were at least 5 of them

A huge spider that was trying to get me!

And these little crabs were all over the paths,
thousands of them!
Right next to us is a clam farm, Southern Cross Sea Farm, and we noticed that they were giving a free tour on Friday, intrigued we stopped by.  It was fascinating learning how they farm clams, right from breeding them, starting them in a hatchery, then nursing them to a big enough size that they can be set out on the gulf floor to grow larger, then finally hauled in and sized and put in their final bags for 12-18 months until they are harvested for selling.  The process takes about 2 years, and this sea farm yields around 120 million clams a year!  There is a lot of work involved.  We learned that the nutrient rich waters of the gulf here around Cedar Key is the reason they are here.  We found out clams are voracious eaters, feeding 24/7 constantly, so it is absolutely necessary to get them in the gulf water as soon as possible, there would be no way they could grow enough algae to feed them.  They are raised in bags to enable the farmers to harvest them and also protect them from predators.  

There is a gestation time of 24 hours, and then they are fully developed clams, and we were able to see them in the microscope, yeah they are that small.  They can swim at this point in their life and they are raised in the nursery until they are about 4mm, when they are put in the gulf.  They put 15,000 of them in each bag for another 3 months until they grow to about the size of a dime, then they are transferred into a grow out bag at 1200 per bag until harvest.  When they get an order, they go find the approximate size they need, there are several different sizes, harvest them, clean them, and sort them out as to number and size.

The owner starting the tour

Where it begins with the "Mom and Dad" clams
They are tricked into breeding by fluctuating the temperature
as nature would do in the spring and the fall

The special algae they grow to feed the babies while they are in the nursery

There are thousands of tiny clams in each bucket here in the nursery
They are about the size of grains of rice

As they grow they are set in the containers, one of which
he is pulling out of the dock

These are the bags that they go in to be placed out in the gulf

The sorting machine

Each bag color is a different size

Clams moving down the sorting machine 

Clams packed, sized, and bagged, ready for shipment
It was a great take and we learned a lot, this farm also started farming oysters about 3 years ago, and Jan and I were able to eat a dozen delicious raw ones at a local restaurant!

So a few very good lunches were had by us, before we get ready to move into service mode as we make our way over to Detroit Diesel to have some maintenance done on the engine, not bad after 109,000 miles, then back to Creative Coach for some body work, paint, new 3M film on the front end, and, of course, fixing our wayward awning.  I'll catch you up on that saga later.

No comments: