The shores of Budd Inlet are lined with mesh bags, filled with oysters.
Each year, residents of Olympia’s East Bay neighborhood check the bags, and if the oysters are big enough, they’re set free. The bags are then replaced with new ones, filled with oyster seeds.
Dan Mazur spent Saturday filling the oyster bags with seeds, then planting them in the mud flats at low tide.
“It’s fun,” Mazur said. “I really like it. It gives you something to do in the summer down at the beach.”
The oysters aren’t for eating, explained. The goal of the program is to rebuild the local oyster population and improve water quality.
“It’s fun, and people like to look out and see the oysters,” Mazur said. “But the real thing is we want to help clean up Budd Inlet.”
Richard Wolf, president of the East Bay Drive Neighborhood Association, said the neighborhood has been planting oyster bags for the past 10 years. Mazur has been leading the program for four years.
Mazur drove to Shelton on Saturday morning to pick up the seeds from the Taylor Shellfish hatchery. This year, he bought 13,050 Pacific oyster seeds and 10,350 Olympia oyster seeds. About 100 seeds are placed in each mesh bag, so the group will plant 234 bags over the course of the weekend.
Mazur said the seeds are purchased using donations. Most cof the money comes from East Bay Drive residents, but in recent years interest in the oyster population has spread to other areas of the county, including Lacey and Tumwater.
One former Olympia resident still sends donations from California.
Wolf said the program wouldn’t be so successful without Mazur.
“He’s crazy about it,” Wolf said. “Sometimes he’s up to his knees in mud (when planting the bags).”