Picture it: cool turquoise waters, surrounded by the snow capped mountains and dark green spruce trees of Halibut Cove, near Homer, Alaska. Bald eagles soar through the sky. A family of sea otters happily splash about, weaving through big blue buoys that bob with the rhythm of the currents, a luscious and complex ecosystem thriving just below the surface. A small oyster boat cuts through the water in the early morning hours, as Greg and Weatherly Bates of Alaska Shellfish Farms tend to their underwater paradise.
Alaska Shellfish Farms is a regenerative aquafarm, growing high quality oysters, mussels, and kelp in a polyculture system. The hard-working Bates family cultivates their shellfish in cages attached to longlines that float along the water. A variety of seaweed species grow abundantly in these glacier-fed waters, covering the lines like weeds. It’s from this farm that we source our incredible Alaska Kombu and Costaria costata, Alaska Kelp.
Weatherly Bates of Alaska Shellfish Farms, pulling up a line of kelp
Not only do we LOVE working with the warm, thoughtful, and hardworking people of Alaska Shellfish Farms, we also appreciate that by sourcing kelp from them, we can help utilize this fast growing, naturally occurring secondary crop that covers their farm. The many types of kelp found on their farm grow alongside their oysters and mussles on farm infrastructure (man-made substrates), yet they are wild-set volunteer species (think weeds on a farm!). We appreciate this approach to aquaculture, that grows multiple, diverse species in a small space. Kelp and oysters are incredibly symbiotic, with kelp helping to buffer pH, thus creating a more favorable environment for oysters (and better conditions for developing oyster shells). Oysters filter the water, allowing more sunlight to reach the kelp.
Avery's holding Alaska Costaria on the left, Catherine is holding Alaska Kombu on the right.
The two kelp species that we source from Alaska Shellfish Farms are Saccharina nigripes (Alaska Kombu) and Costaria costata (Alaska Kelp) . While we’ve sold Alaska Kombu before, we haven’t yet released Costaria (but it's coming soon!). Both are giant, healthy, species of kelp (brown algae) that we dry and package in whole-leaf form. We’ll share more about Costaria in the next few weeks.