A combination of over-harvesting and diseases introduced by Pacific oysters have taken its toll on the Bay oysters since the 1960's. The oyster gardening program was developed to enlist citizen assistance in raising oysters and replenishing the oyster population. We will grow these babies for 1 year at which time those that survive will be mature and able to reproduce. (The goal is to produce oyster baby-making machines.) The mature oysters that we return to the Foundation next year will be planted on one of over 100 protected oyster bed reefs that have been started in the Bay, safe from harvesting, to allow the oysters to reproduce and their offspring to be spread throughout the Bay.
I'm not exactly sure what we were expecting when it was time to receive our 1000 oysters after the seminar, but the small net bag that fit in my hand was not it!
Baby oysters are very, very tiny.
As you can imagine, oysters this tiny are tempting food for a lot of predators. As such, we have to provide a habitat that allows the oysters to be suspended in the water column with room to grow, but protected from blue crabs and the like. So, we opted for the "mesh bag" habitat, which is then attached to floats on each side to suspend the oysters in the water. Here you can see Rob attaching the floats to each side of the mesh bag:
Once the floats were attached, as instructed, we placed the oysters in the bag...
gave the bag a good shake to spread out the baby oysters and maximize their exposure to the water (which provides them food and oxygen)..
and tied off the top to keep them inside the bag and potential predators outside: