Salted Paper Prints: Oyster Portraits, 2018

In February 2018, the town of Hollywood, SC found a breach in one of their sewer pipes that caused 2.4 million gallons of sewage to "leak" and pollute the Stono River for at least 8 days. Due to the toxicity of the bacteria in the wastewater, SC DHEC recalled all oysters harvested from the Stono River from February 19-28, 2018. The affected oyster beds in the area were closed for at least 21 days, until the bacteria levels in the water were safe for shellfish again.

Oysters are important members of estuary ecosystems. They help clean the water by filtering out organic and inorganic particles, like carbon dioxide. Oyster beds (or reefs) provide habitat and food for many vertebrates and invertebrates. They also protect against erosion.

The oysters (species Crassostrea virginica) in these images of salted paper prints were harvested from the Stono River during February 2018.  Salted paper prints require salt for coating the paper and processing the image. Salt water was removed from the Stono River, dehydrated in a Pyrex beaker while heated on a hot plate, and used as follows:  20 grams of this salt were used in the paper salting solution; 200 g of this salt were used in the 5% salted water wash.