The Oyster Table

Photo by Nick Middleton

Set on the intertidal zone/​seal-mara at Bayfield, the CLIMAVORE: On Tidal Zones Oyster Table explores the environmental impact of intensive salmon aquaculture and reacts to the changing shores of Portree, Isle of Skye. Each day at high tide, the installation works as an underwater multispecies oyster table, inhabited by filter feeder bivalves/​dà-shligich and seaweeds/​feamainn. At low tide, the installation emerges above the sea and functions like a dining table for humans.

The Oyster Table is activated by ATLAS Arts and Cooking Sections in collaboration with local chefs, residents, politicians and researchers. Over breakfast, lunch, or dinner (according to the tides), performative meals feature a series of CLIMAVORE ingredients. The Oyster Table programme explores the care of this space and the surrounding waters, as we gather to expand its public and educational programme.

Seaweeds and bivalves are crucial filter feeders to maintain robust and healthy intertidal ecosystems. Oysters/​Eisirean, scallops/​creachannan, clams/​claban-dubha, razor clams/​muirsgeanan or mussels/​feusgain; and kelp/​ceilp, sea lettuce/​lìoran, or dulse/​duileasg, all clean the water by breathing. One mussel is able to filter up to 25 litres of water a day, and a single oyster up to 120 litres. They all provide an incredible source of easy-access protein without the need for irrigation, medication or fertilisers. These shellfish and seaweeds are not uncommon to the Scottish waters and have been part of the Gaels diet for centuries.

The wider CLIMAVORE project collaborates with local restaurants in Skye and Raasay that remove farmed salmon from their menu and incorporate CLIMAVORE dishes. Featuring seaweeds and bivalves, they reconnect people with the use of tidal ingredients and enhance care for the state of the water.