Morro Bay holds a long standing history as a thriving sea port with beautiful ocean views and a tranquil yet productive estuary. From the multitudes of bird species to the dozens of timid harbor seals, Morro Bay has been the home for a wide variety of life. Oyster farming in Morro Bay began in the early 1900's and has been a part of its rich culture ever since.
We began as a production farm for a large oyster company, Tomales Bay Oyster Company (TBOC), found 50 miles north of San Francisco. TBOC farmed the lease with the sole intention of supplying its retail outlet in Point Reyes, CA with fresh oysters of the highest quality.
Our founder, Neal Maloney, was enlisted by TBOC to manage their Morro Bay operation from its inception in 2004. Neal earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oregon in Marine Biology. With this education as well as specialized studies in conservation, business and aquaculture including multiple stints at Oregon's Marine Biology Institute in Coos Bay and at Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey - Guaymas México Neal gained a firm foundation for this business. He then cultivated his skills while employed by TBOC and, upon the owner's retirement, was able to start his own venture, Morro Bay Oyster Company in November of 2008.
Our company has worked hard to develop a strong reputation in Morro Bay by offering the freshest oyster possible. Our Pacific Gold Oysters are harvested by hand directly from the pristine water and sold to local restaurants as well as to the public at farmers markets and off of our barge in the harbor of Morro Bay.
Pacific Gold Oysters are a beautiful, hardy species that thrive in the cold, rich waters of Morro Bay. Their home is a unique bay found on the central coast of California where the strong wind and waves meet the peaceful streams that flow from age old volcanic aquifers. This convergence of elements brings with it constant changes in salinity, temperature, nutrients, and tides. The Pacific Gold Oyster adapts to these changes over the course of its life and develops a robust flavor. When coastal storms bring rain and the salinity drops in the oyster beds, the Pacific Gold Oyster will develop a distinct melon finish. The strong northwest winds of spring cause the upwelling of cold, salty, nutrient rich water that is found deep near the ocean floor. The strong tides bring this water into the farm twice a day allowing our oysters to explode with growth and take on the fresh salty brine that surrounds them.
Pacific Gold Oysters spend the first 6 to 8 months of their life in our nursery being carefully looked after on a daily basis. They are kept submerged for almost that entire time so that we can ensure they are given everything they need to grow and develop before we move them into a harsher environment. Once they have reached full potential in the nursery we separate them from the densely filled holding tank and transfer them to our growing area. They live in strong mesh bags that allow the water to carry plankton freely through the farm, feeding all of our oysters as they grow in their bags. These bags are fixed to long floating lines that rise and fall with the tide. They float just beneath the surface of the water, high above the mud, where the plankton is most abundant. The consistent wave action tumbles and shapes the thin new shell, forming a deep, layered cup that can withstand the stresses of Mother Nature. Once the tide subsides the oysters must flex their muscles tight to keep their shell closed and conserve the oxygen rich water inside. They will depend on this ability until the tide returns again. Here at Morro Bay Oyster Company the Pacific Golds are given the safety to grow in a harsh ocean environment and finally reach its highest potential before being harvested. After 12 – 18 months we begin the harvesting process by hand sorting each and every oyster that will go to our customers. Those that make the grade will be separated by size, bagged, and returned to our holding area. They remain submerged until we are ready to pluck them straight from the water and hand them to you.