The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC) and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, with partners Mobile Bay National Estuary Program recently completed the 2014 Oyster Gardening Season. This season, more than 80 volunteer gardeners at 36 sites worked from June 28 through Nov. 10 caring for thousands of baby oysters (spat) in suspended gardens throughout Mobile Bay. The oysters spent this time filtering hundreds of thousands gallons of water for food as they grew from an initial size of 5 mm (~ 0.2 inches) to an average of 46.1 mm (~ 1.8 inches) in 135 days.
In total, gardeners cared for 59,330 oysters which have since made their way to restoration reef sites in Mobile Bay and the Mississippi Sound. These oysters represent enough to restock nearly 12,000 m2, or ~ 2.9 acres. Each gardening site historically will produce 1,000 oysters for restoration. 2014 saw that average rise in excess of 60 percent to 1,648. This positive trend is likely a result of heavy spat set, accomplished by the Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory and higher survival rate of the oysters owed to the diligent efforts of the Gardeners.
Since its inception, the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program has produced more than 625,000 advanced stocker size oysters for restoration efforts throughout Mobile Bay and the Mississippi Sound.
For questions, contact P.J. Waters, Coordinator of the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program
firstname.lastname@example.org or 251-438-5690.