National Geographic : 1913 Mar
WIRE-GAUZE TRAYS FOR REARING OYSTERS: BELGIUM "The young are then placed in wire gauze baskets and transferred to inclosed ponds or parcs, where growth may take place without danger from natural enemies or from suffoca tion by mud, sand, or silt. For two to three years the oysters are thus protected, requiring frequent overhauling, thinning out, and transfer to other parcs or baskets as their size in creases, this part of the work also being done by women, clad in short skirts and having heavy, square shoes on their bare feet" (see text, pages 269, 272). ENGLAND'S ANCIENT OYSTER INDUSTRY As early as the year 50 B. C. the fame of the British oyster had extended as far as Rome, and Sallust seems to have been more impressed by the oyster than by any other feature of the country, for he wrote: "The poor Britons-there is some good in them after all-they produce an oyster." In 80 A. D. oysters were ex ported from the Thames estuary to Rome, and ever since that time England has had an oyster industry of respect able proportions, although for many years the supply has been inadequate to fill London's gigantic maw, and importa tions from the United States, Holland, and France have been necessary. In both quantity and quality the Brit ish product has been noteworthy from early times, and while the natural oyster grounds have been greatly depleted by excessive dredging the quality of the yield has not only been maintained, but has probably been increased by cultiva tion. To augment the supply of native oysters, seed is brought from America, France, Holland, and other European countries, and after being transplanted for variable periods is placed on the local market. It is noteworthy that American oys ters deteriorate when taken to England and placed on the grounds to grow and fatten; they grow rapidly, but the flavor becomes metallic and their creamy white color turns to leaden gray; fur thermore, they will not reproduce. French seed oysters, on the other hand, when transplanted for three years in the English estuaries, take on the shape and flavor of the "natives," and are annually sold as such at great financial profit to growers and dealers.