- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The board of the Southern Maryland Oyster Cultivation Society would like to express its thanks to the residents and businesses of Calvert and St. Mary’s counties for their support of our efforts to restore oysters in nearby creeks along the Patuxent River. We particularly appreciate this backing because we are seeing signs that our oysters are providing preliminary indications that they are beginning to have a beneficial impact on water quality.
On June 16 and 23, SMOCS volunteers helped survey our reefs by scuba diving on our sites in Mill and Back creeks so that we could develop a rough idea as to how well the oysters that we planted over the past three years were doing. These volunteers came from Calvert and St. Mary’s counties and helped with everything, including marking the sites to guide the survey, diving on the reefs to collect oysters, counting and measuring oysters, tallying data and taking pictures. These people came from a broad range of communities and organizations:
Ÿ Residents of Oyster Bay Condominiums provided virtually all the manpower to do the survey of the McHenry Reef in Back Creek on June 16 and also loaned SMOCS their floating dock to conduct the survey in Mill Creek the following week;
Ÿ Volunteers from the Asbury community helped tally data;
Ÿ The curator of Estuarine Biology from the Calvert Marine Museum accompanied SMOCS volunteers on the Mill Creek survey and agreed to work with SMOCS to improve the scientific reliability of our surveying techniques;
Ÿ Two scuba divers from Calvert Rescue Dive Team Company No. 12 conducted the dive in Mill Creek;
These surveys provided SMOCS valuable information on how our reefs are doing. We counted nearly 1,000 oysters in 21 sampling sites. Water clarity was significantly better near the reefs (a particularly valuable observation by the divers). The average number of oysters in each of the sampled half-yard sites was 45, a moderate, but respectable, density. The range of sizes is what we would expect after three years of plantings. Two-thirds of the oysters were between 1 and 3 inches and one-sixth were greater than 3 inches. Several were 4 to 6 inches. Mortality was around 23 percent.
This survey demonstrated SMOCS’s dependency on a broad range of community support. Without these 23 volunteers, we would not know whether our efforts are succeeding. Thanks to your help and under Department of Natural Resources guidance in the Marylanders Grow Oysters program, we have planted 3.4 million oysters to date and plan to add another 4 million oysters and spat this year. We are more confident than ever that our program is succeeding and that we will see sizeable oyster habitats restored in Southern Maryland in the next three to four years.
Again, the SMOCS board is deeply grateful for all the support that we have received from the local community for our efforts. For a more comprehensive list of SMOCS benefactors, consult our website at www.SMOCS.org.
Len Zuza, LusbyThe writer is the president of the Southern Maryland Oyster Cultivation Society.