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The oyster is his world

What's a Manitoba boy doing, farming the sea?
By: Bartley Kives

CORTES ISLAND, B.C. -- Crouching on a plywood platform floating off the shore of B.C.'s Cortes Island, a deeply tanned figure who calls himself The Oysterman leans over the chilly water of Gorge Harbour and yanks up a wriggling mass of sea life that seems too vivid to exist.

Forest-green sea urchins, olive anemones and purple starfish are tangled up with orange sea cucumbers, a maroon-coloured chiton and one big, brown rock scallop that later turns out to be impeccably sweet.

But the main attraction in this catch are two dozen green and ochre Pacific oysters, which took two years to grow from seedlings on lines suspended eight metres below the aquaculture platform.

"No food. No fertilizer. No inputs whatsoever," beams The Oysterman, clutching a single bivalve as he boasts about what it takes to grow shellfish in the fertile waters around Cortes Island, at the western end of the Georgia Strait.

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Paul Kennedy

Paul Kennedy, host for the CBC's IDEAS program, contemplates the most "sympathetically unselfish" of all the bivalves, and the single aphrodisiac that's generally guaranteed to work – the humble oyster.

Paul Kennedy Paul Kennedy Paul Kennedy
Paul Kennedy eating an oyster on Marina Island, British Columbia.

Old people often tell young people - frequently at a point in their lives when it’s far too late to heed their own good advice - that a person who works with the things he/she loves will almost always certainly find true happiness.

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