Oyster Gardening in Mobile Bay
Oyster Gardening is a program focusing on the ecological and economical role our oyster plays in and around Mobile Bay. The Oyster Gardeners from around Mobile Bay have recently completed twenty-one weeks of caring for their oysters. The hatchery produced babies (oyster spat) that were picked up by Gardeners in June, grew to an average size of 43.88mm (1.73 inches). The biggest oyster measured from a Gardener this year came from Baldwin County, and was 83.0mm (3.27 inches).
Students from Alma Bryant High School and Bayside Academy participated in the program, and just before Thanksgiving, students from Alma Bryant joined us to plant more than 45,000 oysters on restoration and enhancement sites within Mobile Bay. The idea being now that they are larger, they will have a better chance of survival in the wild where they will continue to filter water, spawn and play their important role in our ecosystem.
While the 2009 season is now in the books, planning for the 2010 season is underway. Sound like something you want to be involved with? The program is expanding with support from industry and corporate partners, and there is a way for anyone to get involved! A few conditions that need to be met to grow oysters are still in place, including access to water (a pier) and a location that is considered “open” to shellfish harvesting, but for those who do not meet these conditions, there are opportunities to Adopt a Garden.
For additional questions or information, contact P.J. Waters, Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center, 438-5690.