Farming Mussels in Penn Cove

Mussel barge with crew at work on Penn Cove

Penn Cove Mussels, Inc. was established by the Jefferds family in June of 1975 in Coupeville, Washington; then in March of 1996 we entered into a joint venture with the country's largest oyster farm, Coast Seafood's Company, whereby we became known as Penn Cove Shellfish, LLC.

Farm Manager Tim Jones with a harvest size mussel line.

Whidbey Island's Penn Cove was chosen for the mussel farm due to the unique hydrological and geographic features of the cove which make it the most prolific mussel growing area in the state. The geography of Penn Cove makes it a nutrient trap for the outflows of the Skagit and Stillaguamish River systems. The fresh water and nutrients combined with sun shine provided by the rain shadow effect of the Olympic Mountains tends to turn Penn Cove in to a bay of plankton soup for the mussels.

The prolific production of plankton in Penn Cove is great for us, since Mussels feed on the plankton and diatoms which grow in the ten to twenty feet of the water column. Mussels are very efficient filter feeders, with adults able to filter about 15 gallons of water per day. They can filter up to 60% of the plankton out of the water which they take in.

The development of the mussel farm in Penn Cove has progressed steadily over the years, yet few Whidbey Islanders are aware that Penn Cove is the home of the oldest and largest commercial mussel farm in the United States and that Penn Cove Mussels have won top honors and international tasting competitions.

For more information on mussel farming, The navigation links at right will take you through the different phases of our operation.