On March 30, staff at the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s northeast office educated visiting groups on the importance of oysters in North Carolina’s ecosystem, oyster biology, the federation’s oyster sanctuary work, mariculture advances in the state and more. After the informational session, groups were led to the office’s dock where they were introduced to live oyster spat and had a chance to check water quality parameters, like water level, salinity and temperature. From the office, guests drove to Oregon Inlet Fishing center for a tour of the Savage Inlet Oyster Company’s working lease led by Bobby Smith, owner. After enjoying their boat tour, guests could sample oysters at three local restaurants, Blue Water Grill and Raw Bar, Sandbars and Coastal Provisions, to round out their tour.

These groups were part of the Outer Banks Restaurant Association’s annual Taste of the Beach events. Taste of the Beach is comprised of a variety of events at Outer Banks restaurants over the course of four days. The federation was invited to participate in this particular event, the OBX Oyster Tour, to share our work and knowledge of oysters in North Carolina.

“The chance to connect all aspects of oysters into one event is a very exciting opportunity. Each guest can find something to enjoy,” said Dan Lewis, president of the Outer Banks Restaurant Association, owner of Coastal Provisions and organizer of the event.

The tour served as a miniature version of North Carolina’s developing oyster trail. Tickets sold out immediately for this particular event and two additional tours were added to accommodate demand. There were 24 guests in total, indicating that an oyster trail in the state could be a very successful endeavor. Guests traveled from a wide variety of locations as northward as Massachusetts and from as far south as Florida.

Federation staff also participated in Blue Water Grill’s Taste of the Beach Event, an oyster dinner, where each course featured the favored bivalve. Staff moved table to table during the event, educating diners about the federation’s oyster work.

The federation’s Adopt an Oyster program was successful at both events. After guests learned about the importance of oysters, they were eager to take part in restoration efforts and to support the federation.