Oysters long a popular food source, not just at Thanksgiving

November 23, 2021

This photograph from the 1950s shows men aboard an oystering vessel out of Leipsic planting seed oysters on Delaware Bay oyster bars. Seed oysters were often dredged from creeks and rivers surrounding Delaware Bay and then moved to more productive growing areas in Delaware Bay. The seed oysters often hosted great quantities of tiny little oysters known as spat which would then grow into market-size oysters on the bay bars.

Vessels like this one were often originally sail-powered dredging schooners that were later converted to gas- and diesel-engine power, and used for operations such as that pictured here.

Oysters have been an important source of food protein for thousands of years as evidenced by heaps of oyster shells known as middens left behind by Native Americans who harvested them from local waters.  There are many such middens buried in grown-over dunes deep inside the interior of Cape Henlopen State Park.

  • Delaware Cape Region History in Photographs, published every Tuesday in the Cape Gazette, features historical photos from Delaware's Cape Region - particularly - and from throughout Sussex County and Delaware generally.

    Readers are invited to submit photos of historic interest. They can be mailed to the Cape Gazette at PO Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958, or via email to

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