The Pirates Cove oyster farm is located on the Dorchester County side of the Choptank River, between Horn Point and Jenkins Creek, within the Sandy Hill Sanctuary. The Choptank is wide at the mouth, though narrows quickly and stretches 71 miles from Delaware into Maryland. Its firm sandy bottom allows our cages to sit pleasantly on the river bottom and enjoy a full flow of water, the swift currents bringing a steady stream of nutrients to the oysters. All of this is just a fancy way of saying our farm is in a good spot to grow tasty oysters.
The oyster seed spends its first months in small cages that rest just below the surface of the water, hung on a long line. The wave action of the Choptank River allows the seed to grow quickly and develop an ideal shape without growing together in clusters.
Once the oysters are ready to leave the smaller cages, they are transferred to larger cages that sit on the river bottom. The firm bottom of the Pirates Cove farm keeps the cages from sinking into the mud and allows water to flow completely through the cages. Every few weeks, the cages are brought into a boat and cleaned of any fouling organisms, and the oysters are sorted by size.
Oysters have no legs or fins, so they can’t move around to find better water. They feed only on water that comes to them. Thus, it’s important for oysters to grow in cages with other like-sized oysters. When they reach a specific size, they are sorted on the boat with a tumbler that continues to develop the best shape possible. This step helps us achieve a deep, symmetrical cup which provides a reservoir for the salty oyster liquor, a delicious nectar that enhances the beautiful buttery taste that are the hallmark of a Pirates Cove oyster.
The entire process from seed to market takes about 18 months. Pirates Cove oysters are available year round.
They call it terrior when making fine wine. Simply put, grapes take their taste and flavors from the environment in which they are grown. In much the same way, an oyster’s taste is defined by the waters where it grows. An oyster’s merroir what gives an oyster its defining taste characteristics. The Choptank River gives Pirates Cove Oysters a sweet, buttery taste with a mild briny finish. No matter how you like them—raw on the halfshell with a dash of lemon is our favorite—our oysters are delightful, a real treat for bivalve enthusiasts.
The People - Why are we Pirates Cove Oyster Co.?
Let’s face it. There’s a bit of the pirate in all of us. It’s a mindset, a way of living. Back in the day, men and women often chose the pirate’s way of life because they were dissatisfied. They wanted freedom, independence, and the chance to control their own destiny. Each threw caution to the wind and charted a new course.
It takes this same mindset to grow our oysters. We founded Pirates Cove Oyster Co. because we want to make a sustainable living and a delicious product. We are willing to do whatever it takes to set our own course, to do it our own way, even if we have to veer off the beaten path. We are modern-day pirates, charting our own course in life and in business.