Cedar Key

This afternoon I was speaking with Jerry Beckham at Beckham Seafood. He has been an Oysterman all his life and easily made the transition to clamming. He spoke rather objectively about the Net Ban and seems to harbor less resentment than many of the other former net fishermen. He said he could see the day was coming when the nets would be taken away. Several times, he said how much things has changed. He said, “you couldn’t pay my daddy enough to put a crab trap on his boat.” He explained that back then there were crabbing families, line fishing families, net fishing families, and oystering families, and that they didn’t cross over. His was an oystering family. Jerry also had some great comments about the moon, and how much his father talked about the moon. He talked about the power of the moon and its reflected light, saying that in the old days the fishermen went out at night would cover their mullet with palm fronds sand mangrove leaves to keep the moon from spoiling them. He said the moonlight would spoil fish faster than the sun, going on to say that a full moon would bleach the color out of your clothes faster than sunlight. He also talked about digging holes and the power of the moon. If you did a hole on a waxing moon you will have more than enough dirt to refill it, but if you dig a hole on a waning moon, you will not have enough dirt to refill it in the end. Something to do with the pull on the water in the earth, he added. Earlier I photographed Mike and Beth Davis sorting and packing clams, Jeanine and Nancy Beckham shucking oysters, and Leslie Sturmer and others studying clam genetics.View new photography at www.carltonward.com