Repopulating Oysters In Baltimore

The number of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay has significantly reduced over the past few years. Environmental groups and activists are trying to repopulate oysters by growing them. They have built an oyster garden at Baltimore’s polluted inner harbor as part of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Baltimore Initiative.

Terry Cummings gathered more than 20 volunteers at the Downtown Sailing Center to help with the cultivating exercise. He had to explain to them about the development of baby oysters in their oyster shells before they began the activity. One oyster shell can hold up to 10 oyster babies. Cummings said that an oyster spat is tiny like a half of a coin.

The University of Maryland grew spats at Horn’s Point Laboratory in Cambridge. Pat Beall helped Cummings to take out the of oyster shells from the water. The two coordinators and the volunteers put the shells into steel confines. They tied the piers to the cages and then dropped them back in the water. The objective of the exercise was to let the cages stay in the water until the spring hoping that the spats would mature over that duration. The volunteers were required to come every month to clean the cages and ensure that the spats are getting sufficient food and water.

Dana Vik was one of the volunteers. She and her husband relocated to Baltimore 15 month ago. Vik said that she was surprised by the quality of the water and the trash situation at the harbor. She commented that Baltimore’s Inner Harbor was a complete mess. The biggest problem facing the harbor is the fecal bacteria that are released into the water from the gallons of untreated sewage. Camara Thomas, the Program Manager for Healthy Harbor Initiative, said that the oysters would be well despite the horrible conditions.

The long-term objective of the program was to deploy five million oysters on the reef over the next five years to help filter the water. Peyton Robertson said that if the oyster production were successful, then the oysters would repopulate at other areas of the estuary.

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