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A Drop in the Ocean

While we try to teach our children all about life, the sea teaches us what life is all about. Oyster farming is more than water and food; it is a family’s heritage and future. It is the lifeblood

of a Commercial Fisherman. The sea is always changing, especially with growing coastal

populations, rising sea levels, and intensifying storms. Restoring oyster and salt marsh-based

ecosystems are a Marine Biologists challenge in their research. So, what do you get when you

cross scientists with a commercial fisherman? You get a success story.

In 2009, Drs. Niels Lindquist and Joel Fodrie, Marine Scientists, recruited the expertise of David

“Clammerhead” Cessna to work with them on a research project funded by the NC Sea Grant

Program. This research led them to invent a novel, biodegradable material to overcome

problems and create new ways to promote oyster growth and restore and create estuarine

habitats. It was so successful that they cofounded Sandbar Oyster Company. Oysters contain

more zinc than any other food. Zinc is necessary for proper growth and development,

strengthens the immune system, and promotes healing. They are heart-healthy and high in

omega 3 fatty acids, potassium, and magnesium.

David grew up in his family’s ancestral region of Carteret County, North Carolina. He was raised

on the waters in and around Beaufort. He started fishing for clams and oysters, as well as

channel net shrimping and hauling mullet nets at the age of five years old. Despite warnings

from his grandfather to run away from commercial fishing as a career, David’s early experiences

drew him more deeply to it.

Over the next four decades, his adventures and endeavors in commercial fishing gave David extensive experiential knowledge of shellfish and the opportunity to work with scientists as they would make a difference in the world.


On August 9, 2021, Carteret County lost a beloved man. He passed away peacefully at the

Crystal Coast Hospice House in Newport. David “Clammerhead” Cessna lived as every day was

another opportunity to make a difference. Mother Teresa once said, “We ourselves feel that

what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that

missing drop.”


Rest in peace, David.



Rebecca Jones is a contract writer for the Carteret News-Times and a member of the Carteret Local Food Network blog writing team. She was born and raised in the Piedmont Triad area where she spent most of her life. She has two grown children and 6 grandchildren. Writing has always been a part of her life and she believes that it is a way to showcase and bring awareness to events that affect your community. In April of 2018, Rebecca and her husband George moved to Beaufort, NC. Her most recent two books, Love Brings You Home (about Hurricane Florence) and Go Deep (a devotional with photos), are sold locally and on Amazon.

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