Saturday, May 16, 2009

Shellfish Fibre
Thursday we launched the new Centre for Shellfish Research boat the Cheltlo - Chinook jargon for Oyster.  The Chetlo is being blessed by Ray Peters, a Quw'utzun (Cowichan) elder. Uncle Ray (as he is known) is using cedar and introducing the boat to the water.  In the Coast Salish culture, it is important that boats and people are introduced to the water.  On the Tribal Journeys, a 12 day canoe paddle, we, and the canoe, were introduced to the water every day before starting to paddle.

Having a twisted mind, chetlo/oysters  reminded me that mussles create very strong threads in order to attach to rock.  These threads need to be very strong to withstand the pounding of wave action but also very fine, so fine they can attach to a single grain of sand.  One species, the Pen mussle (pinna noblis), produces shiny golden threads, was used to make fabric Byssus--the silk of the sea, also less  gloriously known as '"fish wool".  One theory possits that the 'golden fleece' was referring to the golden threads of byssus.  In his novel  "20,000 leagues under the sea", Jules Verne wrote '...I felt so great a heat that I obliged to take off my coat of byssus!'

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