Isle of Skye, Scotland

2016–ongoing

ATLAS Arts

Every day at low tide the oyster table at Bayfield, Portree, emerges from the sea, becoming a dining table for humans. CLIMAVORE: On Tidal Zones. Cooking Sections, 2017-ongoing. Isle of Skye. Aerial Photo: Nick Middleton.

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.

Started as an oyster table, the structure on the intertidal zone of Portree, Isle of Skye, has slowly become a multispecies home for other bivalves and seaweeds. It is activated through public workshops and performative meals to discuss alternative aqua-cultures for the island.

Set on the intertidal zone/seal-mara at Bayfield, CLIMAVORE: On Tidal Zones 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.

It is activated by Cooking Sections in collaboration with local chefs, residents, politicians and researchers with the support of ATLAS Arts, who continue to maintain and expand its public and educational programme. Over breakfast, lunch, or dinner (according to the tides), performative meals feature a series of CLIMAVORE ingredients. The 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.

Since 2017 the oyster table has become an intertidal habitat to address pollution from open-net salmon farms. Bivalves and seaweeds on the other hand can enhance habitats that filter water as they grow. Photo: Ruth Clark.

Different from open-net salmon farming—that produces an excess of nitrogen, increases the appearance of sea lice, and releases antibiotics and chemicals to treat them—other creatures engage in opposite processes. CLIMAVORE responds to the dead zones that salmon farms are creating all around the island, Scotland and beyond, addressing human-induced climatic alterations of the waters, including; acidification, antibiotics release, appearance of new parasites and disappearance of wild species, through a different form of eating and sourcing of nutrients to transition into regenerative aqua-cultures. The project continues its mission in Skye and Raasay expanding into the CLIMAVORE Station - a series of pedagogical actions, apprenticeship programmes, ecosocial material innovations, and the fostering of circular economies.

To learn more about it, visit the CLIMAVORE Station

Public workshop with seaweed forager Rory MacPhee at low tide, explaining how to follow seaweed reproduction and harvesting cycles while ensuring their continued growth. Over breakfast, lunch, or dinner (according to the tides), workshops are accompanied by performative meals featuring a series of CLIMAVORE ingredients, where workshops with fishermen, politicians, residents and scientists have been held to discuss another cultural imaginary for the island. Guests enjoyed bloody oyster cocktails, crunchy shingles, or lasagna foreshore among many other CLIMAVORE delights. Photo: Colin Hattersley.
At high tide, the multispecies table allows its nonhuman dwellers to breathe and filter water. A mussel can filter up to 35 litres of water per day, and an oyster up to 120 litres.
At low tide, the structure emerges above the sea and becomes accessible on foot. It is used as a platform to discuss how to transition from open-net fish farms towards regenerative aqua-cultures. Photos: Nick Middleton.
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