A photo a day from Oriental, NC, the surrounding Pamlico County area, and nearby rivers, creeks, bays and other waterways of coastal North Carolina.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

2.06- Gathering molluscs (Skywatch Friday is prior posting, below)

Fishermen gathering bivalve molluscs in the North River, Carteret County, NC
(Click on image for full size)

The scallop fisheries of the NC Outer Banks and Core Sound were re-opened at the end of January this year, after three years of being closed due to low populations of the pricey bivalve.

While scalloping will be allowed in these NC inshore waterways through April, they may only be taken by hand, hand rakes, hand tongs, dip nets or scoops, but not by dredges, which can destroy wide swaths of the sea-grass beds on which the tenuous scallop population depends.

Recreational fishers are limited to taking 1/2 bushel of scallops on Saturdays and Sundays, and commercial fishers to 5 bushels on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

There are also numerous oyster beds in the area, so I'm not sure if these are commercial scallop fishers trying for their Friday 5 bushel limit, or if they are folks gathering oysters, or even clams. (Perhaps a friendly local fisherman might know and drop me a comment or an e-mail educating me on the topic)

[2.08.09 UPDATE: I have been reliably informed by a local commercial fisherman that North River, Carteret County, is a very popular spot for taking oysters and clams... it is supposed to be "silly" with oysters... I had actually noticed that oyster shells litter the shoreline and the little island in the photo above, and I did see bunches of oyster clusters during low tide... Also, rakes are apparently used for taking clams, while hand tongs are used for oysters.]

Whatever they are after, these guys are wading in water that was about 35 degrees Fahrenheit at the time this shot was taken... Notice one guy in the upper left of the shot is in a wet suit.

At least the air temperature was up to around 50 F., as opposed to the below/at/just above freezing temperatures of the past couple of days... There was ice along parts of this shoreline at 8:00 a.m. when I first passed this spot, and nobody was out there then.

You can see some additional pictures of today's mollusc fishers, as well as a couple of species of ducks I added to my photographic life-list today at my other blog, the Dinghy Dock

A technical note on the photograph itself: I am using a borrowed Canon Rebel XT1 with a Pentax 300 mm. f.4 lens, with a 2 X converter, for a total focal length of 600 mm. I did not have a tripod with me, and the converter cuts down on the light intake, so I had to open the lens all the way and set the ISO at 1600 in order to get a fast enough shutter speed (1/1000) to get a fairly crisp shot with this long lens. I therefore got more "noise" (anyone remember when we called it "grain"?) and less depth-of-field than I could have desired for this shot... The closest person in the picture is about 250 yards away, and the background shoreline is 1.4 miles away.

Here is where these fishermen were wading in the 1 to 4 foot waters:


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