Science Serving Maryland's Coasts
Donald Meritt, Ph.D.
Horn Point Laboratory
Mortality Index Determination for Eastern Oyster, Crassostrea virginica, Seed Transport
The Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica is in trouble. The impact on the seafood industry and traditional fishing communities may be incalculable. Oysters play a vital role in helping to maintain water quality in estuarine ecosystems. Oyster reefs created by aquaculture can very rapidly take on the characteristics of healthy natural oyster reefs. The restoration of oyster reefs through aquaculture is an important part of the process of restoring the Chesapeake Bay. This study is to determine if there is a relationship between juvenile oyster size and resistance to mortality by desiccation to provide parameters of survival for oyster spat under transit conditions. Spat were marked to assure that replicates were easily identified. Replicates of each size class were subjected to timed desiccation in a drying oven. The percentage of dead oyster spat was determined after a recovery period. All data was plotted "raw" and then normalized using Microsoft Excel 2000 software. Our preliminary data analysis strongly suggests that there is a direct positive correlation between oyster-spat size and the spats resistance to mortality due to desiccation. A distinction occurs between <1mm and 3mm spat. This suggests that larger sizes (>3mm) may display an even greater tolerance to exposure.
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