David Cessna grew up in his family’s ancestral region of Carteret County, North Carolina. Beginning at the ripe old age of six, Cessna learned firsthand the many wonders of commercial fishing from his grandfather, and the mysteries surrounding shellfish quickly pulled him in deeper. He knew that in order to be a successful fisherman, he must understand the resource. His adventures and endeavors provided Cessna with an extensive amount of shellfish knowledge, and the interesting nickname, “Clammerhead”. Over the next four decades, Clammerhead worked primarily with shellfish, both in the wild and running aquaculture leases for himself and other growers. During this time, Clammerhead established deep roots with trusted associates in the seafood industry in Carteret County.
Clammerhead’s roles with Sandbar Oyster Company involve developing sustainable oyster production methods and marketing the company’s oyster brands, including its unique, signature oyster, the Atlantic Emerald™, and researching and developing shoreline protection applications for Oyster Catcher™ through the creation of structurally resilient living shorelines. Clammerhead’s vision for Sandbar Oyster Company is as an engine for sustainable economic growth in coastal communities and helping mitigate the devastating impacts of rising sea levels and other climate change impacts on the coastal communities.
Niels Lindquist received a B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Florida in 1983 and then conducted Ph.D. research in natural products chemistry and chemical ecology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He continued marine chemical ecology research as a post-doctoral associate and then faculty member at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City. For many years, Lindquist studied coral reefs, but in 2010, his research interests turned to North Carolina’s oysters.
Lindquist’s research in oyster ecology and restoration has involved many collaborators, including David “Clammerhead” Cessna, a commercial shellfish harvester from coastal North Carolina. Together, they invented a novel composite hardscape they named “Oyster Catcher™ for “catching” and growing immense numbers of oysters from wild oyster populations. Importantly, Oyster Catcher™ is biodegradable, fading away over time and leaving behind new oyster habitat. UNC filed a patent application for the novel substrate, and Lindquist and Clammerhead formed Sandbar Oyster Company to license the commercialization rights and manufacture products for sustainable oyster aquaculture, oyster-habitat restoration and shoreline protection. Following on the heels of a successful feasibility project funded by UNC’s Office of Commercialization and Economic Development, Sandbar Oyster Company received a tremendous boost as one of five winners in the spring 2016 competition for startup support from the NC IDEA Foundation. Sandbar Oyster Company is now bringing to market its signature green-gill oyster, the Atlantic Emerald™, testing Oyster Catcher™ products in living shoreline and oyster habitat restoration projects and working to grow the use of Oyster Catcher™ in estuaries across the nation.