We were unsure if it was safe to eat, or even legal to pick the oysters that were strewn across the shallows. The white shells easy to spot against the dark volcanic rock, stuck together in clumps of half a dozen, their vast numbers seemed to suggest they were either dangerous or illicit. Did this count as ‘fishing’? We weren’t sure if this kind of activity was allowed in a protected marine park, or if we had the right permits.
“Oyster Bay (by name only)” – the guidebook described the next bay along the coast; was it no longer a suitable seafood habitat, or picked dry? Maybe it was just inaccessibility that preserved the oyster population on this tiny beach tucked in Smuggler’s Cove. We hoped this was the case as we loaded 6 into the deck hatch. Enough to enjoy, but not so many as to be wasted if they were no good – We could have filled the two kayaks.
Having spent my 23 years as a city dweller, having just picked up a luxury lunch for free had me smiling broadly. Or maybe it was the rush of a cargo of potential contraband?
With a hull of oysters, hidden from the beating sun, we launched back into the water. The tiny rocky passage, our shortcut out – was cut off by low tide. Take the long way around. Smugglers Cove (in name and nature).