Where Maine Comes Out Of Its Other Shell

ON an overcast morning in late July, high above the swirling current of the Damariscotta River in Maine, Barb Scully stood in her roadside kiosk to sell her catch. A steady procession of summer folk, road trippers and locals cruised down River Road and stopped to browse the coolers and say hello. Every few minutes, a cordless phone would ring, and she would rattle off a list of prices, times, weights and tides.

Ms. Scully fits the image of the Maine fisherwoman well. Her tawny biceps and burly Muck boots contrast with a pearly smile and sea-green eyes. Her clapboard home along the rock-ribbed shore of the Damariscotta, a 15-mile bolt of the Atlantic that juts into midcoast Maine, completes the sketch. There is a derelict Chevrolet Nova in the backyard, and the forest leading down to the riverbank is strewn with buoys, wire traps and spools of rope.

The likeness, however, ended at Ms. Scullys pier. Dangling from her dock were 100 plastic mesh cages that didnt look anything like the iconic metal traps found on nearly every lobster boat in Maine. Her cages were shorter and squatter, and the shellfish her two children had just cleaned didnt look anything like the clawed, red critters adorning some of the states license plates. They were oysters, and on the last Saturday of July at Ms. Scullys stand, they were outselling Maines celebrity crustacean 50 to 1.

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