EUREKA -- Well shucks.
After two years of searching, a local man plucked out of Humboldt Bay what he believes to be the world's largest oyster.
Richard Mesce, a retired navy pilot, asked James Gast, a retired Humboldt State University oceanography professor, to take the first official measurement Friday morning to start the application process to qualify for the Guinness World Records.
Measuring 13 inches long and about 6 inches wide, the oyster is longer than the current recorded largest oyster, which measured in at 12 inches and 5.5 inches wide.
"It was a challenge," Mesce said. "It took a long time to find it."
Mesce has been searching for an oyster of this magnitude since he accidentally came across a 10-inch oyster in the same area near the Samoa Bridge in 2006.
"I figured if there was that one, that surely there had to be an even larger one to break the record by Chesapeake Bay," Mesce said.
He estimates he spent more than 100 hours over the last two years looking for the oyster by kayak, utilizing tide tables and also reading up on oysters.
Since noncommercial oyster harvesting is illegal, he had to get special permission from local oyster companies.
The Guinness World Records process requires two witness signatures with statements, extensive documentation and local media coverage to qualify for a chance at the title.
Mesce is hoping the oyster will get the record slot in time for the Arcata Bay Oyster Festival on June 14, but he's not planning on cracking it open for a snack -- despite some suggestions from bystanders.
Since the oyster was covered by 8 inches of mud, Mesce guessed its age at about 80-years old. If the oyster really is the biggest, Mesce said Humboldt State University's Telonicher Marine Laboratory in Trinidad has agreed to keep the oyster in its aquarium and let it grow in a controlled environment.
"So, it'll stay the world's largest oyster," he said.
Donna Tam can be reached at 441-0532 or firstname.lastname@example.org.