"Oysters. All That Zinc Is Good For You...Casanova Had Fifty For Breakfast..."
Before the Pilgrims arrived on Cape Cod, there was an abundance of oysters, a veritable oyster heaven.
Oysters like a slightly saline water to grow in. You will find them near rivers and creeks that empty into the bay or coves that enjoy low salinity. These low salinity estuaries provide ideal growing environments for oysters. Clams and scallops are not so picky. Neither are the Blue Crabs or the Whelks. And mussels, thousands of them, grow on the periphery of the estuaries.
Oysters like to attach themselves to rocks and other hard objects, but if those components are missing, then any errant mussel will do or even the roots of marsh grass.
Where no attachments are available they just lie on the sand and are washed around with the tides. If they are lucky, they get washed up into the marsh grass and find a home there.
A quirk of fate, an unfortunate event, picked the Agawam River to house the local Sewage Treatment facility. The design was flawed from the get-go and it dumped too much nitrogen loaded water back into the Agawam River.
Too much nitrogen in the water encourages the growth of algae. No algae was present in the Agawam River before the advent of the Sewage Treatment plant.
There were world renown seed oyster beds on the Agawam River. Oystermen from all over the globe would order seed oysters from the growers on the Agawam River.
The nitrogen overload killed the eel grass that the seed oysters liked to grow in.
The eel grass was replaced with algae. Algae takes oxygen out of the water. Oysters need oxygen and eel grass to survive. The oyster beds were destroyed and the Algae eaters flocked to the Agawam River. Swans, the algae eaters.
People think they are beautiful birds, but they really are the result of an ecological disaster that it still being played out on every estuary on Buzzard's Bay.
When you see Swans, you see trouble.
This ecological disaster is exacerbated by further nitrogen loading from people fertilizing their grasssey lawns. There are even trucks loaded with liquid nitrogen spraying lawns with their destructive nitrogen. It may make the grass grow and look very green, but it seeps into the water table and from there into the rivers and estuaries.
Soon there will be no shellfish left around the bay. Nice green grass, beautiful Swans, but no shellfish, no oysters.
According to lawn experts, leaving your grass clippings on the lawn is just as good as fertilizing with nitrogen products. So get a mulching mower and leave your grass clippings on the lawn. The shellfish and oysters will thank you. So will the oyster lovers.
Oysters are members of the bi-valve family which includes clams and scallops.
Swift's Beach used to have lots of oysters, but they are fast disappearing owing mainly to the nitrogen loading from the Sewage Processing Plant on the Agawam River which join the Wareham River above the Narrows in Wareham. The Wareham River used to be called the Wankinko (Wankinkoah) River. It flows past Swift's Beach and joins the Weweantic River flowing between Wareham and Marion.
Marks Cove in Wareham used to have colonies of Oysters. The 1938 hurricane wiped them out and they never came back.
Here are some postcards that depict the old Oyster Shack that used to be on Swift's Beach. There were so many oysters being gathered that a shakc was necessary to house them before being transported to all points of the compass.
These postcards come from the early 20th century around 1910 - 1914, just before World War I.
Here is the back of that Postcard...Don't you love the handwriting?
Here is another postcard of the Oyster Shack...
This if the back of the postcard above...
This is the back of the 1914 postcard of the Oyster shack. That type of rowboat was common around the beach in those days. Notice how the stern is raised above the water - the better to handle a following sea perhaps.
Also, notice the arrow pointing to a cottage down the beach to the right. Those cottages were carried away in the 1938 hurricane and never re-built. Just sand dunes there now.
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