Oyster growing season is May through October, but the work continues year-round. Whatever the season, it’s labor intensive to grow oysters, involving a sorting process of separating larger from smaller. “Ice, snow, whatever comes,” says Gargiulo. “That’s part of the risk… You have good years and bad.”
Oysters face threats from whelks, oyster drills, and other predators. Gargiulo says last year’s blue claw crabs were particularly devastating. Before Tropical Storm Irene pushed through, Gargiulo and his father had been able to get some vulnerable seedlings out of the bay and into trucks, where the oysters rode out the storm. The crop suffered only minimal damages, with Cotuit losing perhaps 12 bags of oysters out of over 2,000.