South River High School Students Help Determine Optimal Oyster Numbers

The West Rhode Riverkeeper, Jeff Holland, has been working with Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and South River High School students to determine the optimal number of oyster shells that should be placed in a Marylanders Grows Oysters cage.

The Marylanders Grows Oyster program engages waterfront residents in growing infant oysters, called spat over the winter at their docks until the spat are large enough to survive on the oyster sanctuary reef. Over 5,000 people participate in the program, caring for 7,500 cages of oyster on 30 different Bay tributaries across the state. Arundel Rivers Federation has over 125 oyster growers participating for the South, West and Rhode Rivers alone.

In mid-May 2019, Holland, with the help of volunteers, collected 40 oyster cages from the West and Rhode Rivers.  The cages had four different amounts of oyster shell in them.  South River High School students are counting the number and size of the spat to see it there are any advantages to the number of oysters in the cage. Fewer shells leads to better water circulation, but more shells can provide better protection from predators.  We will share the results, once the students and Smithsonian Environmental Research Center have finished analyzing the data!

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