Media stories often cite Sandbar Oyster Company as an unlikely partnership between a scientist and a fisherman — a successful duo not only in the half-shell market, but also in ecological restoration.
“He’s not my normal consideration of what a scientist would be like.” That’s how fisherman David Cessna, better known simply as Clammerhead, describes Niels Lindquist in a WRAL-TV story.
A closer look reveals the collaboration is not so surprising. A few years back, they were part of an applied research team studying N.C. fisheries and habitats. Administered by North Carolina Sea Grant, those research projects required one or more partners from the fishing industry.
“We had many days working together on the water,” recalls Lindquist, who teaches at the Institute of Marine Sciences of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “What started as general conversations evolved into deeper discussion and debate, and ultimately to a greater understanding of — and trust in — each other’s knowledge of North Carolina oysters and our particular skills within the team.”
John Fear, Sea Grant deputy director, says their partnership and the resulting new company achieve a broader goal of collaborative research. “Local knowledge, including intuition of those who work the water, has value alongside the scientific process of gathering and analyzing data,” he explains.
Lindquist and Cessna were on a team looking at oyster enemies — carbonate-boring sponges that rapidly colonize on marl, a material traditionally used in reef restoration. The invaders can make marl, and even natural oyster-shell reefs, launching points to spread to nearby natural reefs.