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Oyster harvest: Diving for the ‘pearls of Long Island Sound’

Daniel Dost dives for oysters in Long Island

Daniel Dost dives for oysters in Long Island Sound year-round. Credit: Dost family

Oysters are known as pearls of the Long Island Sound. Oysters are considered a natural filter. They bring in water, pull bad things out of the water, and then push clean water back out. Native oysters died off in the Long Island Sound in big numbers in the late ’90s due to a disease. The state Department of Environmental Conservation restored them in some areas and they are now making a strong comeback all over.

They are also loved by many for their delicious taste. My dad, Daniel Dost, dives on the North Shore throughout the year. In the summer, he wears a wet suit. Once the water reaches 60 degrees or below, he wears a dry suit. A dry suit lets my dad dive all winter, even in ice water.

The oysters must be 3 inches in size in order to be taken. They attach themselves to rock, never sand. My dad dives in water 15 to 30 feet deep to find them. Once the oysters are harvested from the water, they are culled, bagged and tagged. My dad needs to have specific permits and licenses to harvest the oysters, and certifications for scuba diving. During the months of May to October, the oysters must be kept on ice below 40 degrees.

When I asked my dad what he likes best about oyster diving, he said, “The peacefulness of being on the water and experiencing nature to its fullest.” He added, “There’s just fish and cool things to look at underwater. Always an adventure.” He loves it and enjoys eating oysters and harvesting them for everyone to enjoy. My dad’s oysters are sold and eaten at restaurants all over Long Island.

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