North Carolina is celebrating the mighty oyster.
Oct. 11-15 is North Carolina Oyster Week this year and organizers, North Carolina Sea Grant, the North Carolina Coastal Federation, and the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, say the “shellebration” includes a series of in-person and virtual oyster-related events along the coast and in the Triangle.
The public will have opportunities to engage with oyster growers and harvesters, seafood restaurants and retail markets, recreational outfitters and coastal conservation and education organizations. North Carolina Sea Grant has published a list of events that includes some scheduled outside of the Oct. 11-15 timeframe and are also listed on the websites of the NC Oyster Trail, which was also a partner, and NCDNCR.
“Oysters benefit our state in myriad ways,” said Jane Harrison, North Carolina Sea Grant’s coastal economist. “North Carolina Oyster Week events will highlight the ecology, culture, economy, and history related to this vital resource.”
In addition to being simply delicious, oysters can improve water quality as they filter water for food. Oyster reefs provide habitat for other animals. And they are an important part of North Carolina’s economy, here on the coast and beyond.
October is a key month for N.C. oysters. The wild-caught season begins Oct. 15 and continues through April.
For those who crave oysters all year, cultivated, or farmed, oysters are available.
“The idea that oysters can only be eaten in ‘r’ months — that is, September through April — is a misconception,” Harrison said. “You can eat cultivated oysters any day with a ‘y.’ In other words, Monday through Sunday, all year long.”
Scheduled events include cultivated and wild-caught oysters alike. For example, at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday , a live-streaming event on YouTube will feature oyster farmer Ryan Bethea of Oysters Carolina, who will delve into the variety of oysters available on our coast.
At 5 p.m. Friday, Shuckin’ Shack in Surf City and Wrightsville Beach Brewery near Wilmington will host in-person parties for folks to sample these succulent shellfish. Both establishments are part of the NC Oyster Trail, which offers year-round opportunities to taste, learn about, and protect oysters.
The trail’s mission is to help sustain and grow N.C. oyster supply and demand, resulting in economic, environmental, and social benefits to the state’s seafood industry and coastal communities.