Since 1990, the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) has worked to restore oyster bars in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. A main function of the Paytner Lab is to monitor success of restored oyster populations in the northern Chesapeake Bay. We specifically focus on monitoring spat-on-shell plantings that are coordinated by the ORP. The ORP obtains spat-on-shell from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Horn Point Laboratory Oyster Hatchery, located in Cambridge, Maryland on the Choptank River.
Here's a look into a typical Paytner Lab
year of oyster restoration!
Ground-truthing begins in the early spring to determine viable bottom to receive spat-on-shell plantings. Bottom with high shell exposure and low sediment depth are better substrate for planting to keep spat from sinking into mud and dying. Divers classify bottom as acceptable or unacceptable to receive spat-on-shell from the oyster hatchery.
Post Planting Monitoring (PPM)
The Horn Point oyster hatchery grows spat (baby oysters) and settles them on clean recycled oyster shell to be deployed on predetermined locations during the spring and summer. Hatchery-deployed shells are sampled in the summer and fall by divers. Remaining spat are counted and measured to determine short-term survival.
Three Year Check In
Long-term survival is estimated by divers in the fall and winter by re-visiting sites three years after being planted with spat-on-shell. All oysters are counted and measured to calculate hatchery survival and natural recruitment (oysters that weren't hatchery planted).
Three year old hatchery clumps sampled during the long-term survival check-in. These oysters are all still connected to their original host oyster shell. New spat on these three year old oysters are considered natural recruitment.