GRAND ISLE, La. -- Steve Pollock used to teach biology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, but now he's putting his scientific mind to work in Grand Isle, where he's created the first commercial oyster hatchery to open in the state in more than three decades.
He and his wife Ginger (who still teaches biology at LSU) and their two kids spend a lot of time at their Grand Isle home that's been transformed into a one-of-a-kind oyster lab. It's the foundation for Steve's hatchery/nursery, where he's producing billions of baby oysters: seed for his own farm and others in the Gulf Coast region.
"There's a lot of hard work at the oyster farm -- I definitely by any means wouldn't tell somebody it's an easy job being an oyster farmer," says Steve.
To get to the fields of the Triple N Farm, you use a boat, not a tractor. It's a scenic five-mile ride out to the two-acre farm; Triple N cages float in one of eight farms that sit in an area off the coast of Grand Isle.
As the oysters grow, they are sorted and moved from one floating cage to another.
"Eventually, we'll get down to a point where we'll only have 150 to 200 oysters in each floating bag," says Steve.
The farm is named Triple N because "N" stands for a set of chromosomes, and this farm raises oysters with three sets. That's important because this type, known as "triploid" oysters, is sterile. Since they don't spawn, they stay plump and juicy all year-round (meaning you can forget that rule about only eating oysters in months that end with the letter 'r').
Triple N Farm sells more baby oysters (known as "seed") than big ones, to the tune of roughly twenty to thirty million each year! They are sold to other farms throughout the Gulf Coast.
Now this pair of biologists, Ginger and Steve, have a new course to focus on: economics.
"It's kind of like penny stocks. You have a stock that's worth .06 cents but you sell 60 million of them and it adds up to a lot of money," says Steve.