Earlier this month, Dr. Suzanne Bricker from the NCCOS Oxford Lab helped a Maryland oyster grower inspect his Chester River oyster lease site for oyster mortalities. The grower has been participating in Bricker's study on the water filtering potential of Chesapeake Bay oysters.
Typically, there is about 10 percent over-wintering mortality of oysters observed at the lease site. However, with the high rainfall this year (2018–2019), and the subsequent low salinities, Scott Budden, the owner of Orchard Point Oyster Company, expected greater mortality. A quick check in March suggested mortalities around 30 percent. The more thorough check this month showed low mortalities for large oysters, but almost 60 percent mortality for small oysters.
Due to high overall mortalities and historically low salinities, Budden and his team moved four million oysters to a higher salinity lease site in Eastern Bay to prevent further losses. Once salinities return to normal levels the oysters will be moved back to the Chester River site.
For more information, contact Suzanne Bricker.