I recently read an interesting article on the work of a Virginia graduate student with the oyster aquaculture industry. The Virginia oyster population has seriously declined over the last century, due to disease, overharvesting, and sedimentation. I found the article ‘Seeds of Success’ in the December 12th issue of the Rappahannock Record, where it was reprinted from the Bay Journal. I’ll share the link below.
The article discusses the efforts of a former grad student, Mike Congrove, and a Virginia waterman, Rufus Ruark Jr, to rebuild the oyster industry in Virginia. Oysters are having a bit of a rebound in the Bay due to state-sponsored reef building and the production of disease-resistant larvae. Congrove played a part in research for the disease resistant oyster- the triploid. Author Rona Kobell highlights his research and writes of his work with Ruark to build a hatchery that employed spat-on-shell growing techniques with the triploid oyster.
Congrove is currently involved in researching water quality in the Chesapeake region. He is working with Virginia Tech to determine suitable conditions for oyster growing, and how to continue oyster production when water quality declines. Although this is not mentioned in the article, water quality is likely to become the biggest challenge to Chesapeake oysters in the near future as acidifying waters associated with climate change could have a significant impact in the Bay. For this reason, I think it will be interesting to track Congrove’s work, and see what comes of his research.