Carlsbad Aquafarm: Underwater agriculture - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Carlsbad Aquafarm: Underwater agriculture

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CARLSBAD (CBS 8) - When it comes to agricultural buzz words like "locally grown" and "farm fresh", the Carlsbad Aquafarm has made a big splash on the shellfish market.

"We can produce products here that's minutes out of the water," John Davis said.

In a six-acre lagoon bordering the Encina Power Plant, the aquafarm has created a thriving ecosystem that's bathing in abundance.

"This would be a dead zone, except for what we're doing," John said.

What they have been doing for the past 22 years is creating a living reef.

"These muscles have been harvested and they are too small. The small product, rather than throw it away, we put it back into these tubes. The cotton holds the muscles in the tube, the mesh giving it strength. The cotton will biodegrade in two weeks and will be gone, leaving the muscles attached to the nylon tube. These grow in the water, suspended vertically," John said.

Ten months later you've got a 40-pound wreath of muscles.

"It's alive with all the animals and organisms that live here," John said.

Oysters too are harvested hands-on.

"We try at all times to handle the young oysters like this as gentle as possible. We are talking about every six weeks we can handle 3 to 5 million oysters. These oysters have been sterilized, laboratory tested and they are ready to go to market," John said.

"People eat our oysters and they say, 'Wow, we've never tasted oysters like that.' And I'm saying you've never tasted an oyster that's a few minutes out of the water."

The freshest stars of the sea are plucked straight from the farm that thrives below sea level.

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