Home is where…, Part 2-The oysters are harvested
by Houston commercial photographer – Nicki Evans Photography
With a large part of Chambers County touching Trinity and/or Galveston Bays, it’s no wonder that so many people who call this county home have jobs related to the water and seafood. So the first installment of “Home is where…” features Jeri’s Seafood.
Jeri’s Seafood, based in Smith Point, began in 1970. Since then, multiple generations of the Nelson family have worked in the business on Galveston Bay harvesting oysters and practicing sustainability of the local reefs.
At Jeri’s Seafood, the day begins around 5:30 a.m., when employees arrive to head out to the reefs or begin shucking and packaging oysters. With little light (no sunlight at all), bucket after bucket of ice is loaded onto the boats that will go out to the reefs in Galveston Bay. During the summer months, trips to the reef are short because of the heat.
Close to 6 a.m., when the sky is just beginning to lighten up, the boats leave for the bay.
About the same time, another crew works on moving bags of oysters between trailers and a giant drive-in freezer.
Inside, men dressed in hoodies (because it’s cold in there) and rubber boots line counters from one wall to the next shucking piles and piles of oysters. Pop the shell, drop the oyster into a bucket of water and knock the shell into a crate on the floor.
After about 30-40 minutes of shucking, the crates of empty shells begin to fill up. Two guys begin emptying the crates into the bucket of a forklift, so those shucking oysters never have to stop the process.
After the forklift bucket fills up, the oyster shells are then taken outside, much to the happiness of waiting seagulls, where they are poured into a dump truck. Later these oysters will be returned to the bay to help sustain the reefs.
Around 6:15 a.m., the first full buckets of raw oysters are being sent to the next point in the assembly line for washing, sorting, weighing and packaging.
Once the oysters are placed into buckets for delivery, they are sealed, placed in boxes and then covered in ice until it’s time to be loaded onto an 18-wheeler.
The sun has now been out for about 15 minutes. Some people are probably just leaving for work or maybe even waking up, and the well-oiled machine that is Jeri’s Seafood is already on a roll for the day.
Stay tuned for the next installment of “Home is where…” Hopefully there will be a second part to the Jeris’ Seafood blog, when I have a chance to ride out to the reefs.
Nicki Evans Photography – 2016
Have camera. Will travel.
Nicki Evans Photography – Houston, TX – Commercial Photographer