Thursday, December 27, 2007

Treating Oysters Like Royalty

Today's Capital reports that a local inventor, Andrew Murdza, has devised a new way to raise oysters to help replenish the Bay's decimated bivalve population. Murdza founded Oyster King several years ago and established a base of operations at Discovery Village in Shady Side.

He is now selling "Oyster Hotels", cages filled with barley straw to help filter contaminants, to house oyster spat and protect them from predators.

Mr. Murdza's initial tests have yielded excellent short term (6 month) survivability and he looks forward to eventually spawning 50 million baby oysters to help re-stock the Bay. His method of growing oysters at the water's surface mimics the well-documented accounts of European settlers who first came upon the Bay. For instance, when Captain John Smith explored the Bay in the early 1600s, oyster reefs broke the water's surface and were often deemed "hazards to navigation." One is left to contemplate not only the role that these massive reefs historically played in oyster propagation, but also in protecting the shoreline from high wave energies.

Curiously, the cost of the Oyster Hotels is $500 apiece, which corresponds exactly to the upper limit the State will reimburse homeowners for placing oyster aquaculture floats on their property. Oyster gardening supplies can be purchased from a wide variety of suppliers. A partial listing can be found here.

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