Oyster Ranchers

A large-scale oyster farming operation on the Chesapeake Bay's Choptank River. 

A large-scale oyster farming operation on the Chesapeake Bay's Choptank River. 

The current wild oyster population in Chesapeake Bay sadly is at 1 per cent of historic levels. That’s not only bad news for the fishery, but also for water quality. A single oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons of water a day, so the vast wild oyster beds that used to thrive in Chesapeake Bay surely played a vital role in filtering the water and improving its clarity.

Though the wild harvest of Chesapeake Bay oysters continues, the practice of growing oysters in large aquaculture operations has exploded over the last five to seven years. Some of the larger operations have 5 to 6 million oysters in the water at a time, which means the busy bivalves are filtering as much as 300 million gallons of local water each day.

This video shows how oyster aquaculture is having a positive effect on Bay waters:

There are additional benefits from the practice. A percentage of the oysters are able to reproduce, casting their fertilized eggs into the surrounding waters, which aids in boosting local wild populations. Oysters also provide great habitat for small fish and other aquatic life, even when they are raised in cages. 



10 Billion Oysters

A single oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons of water a day, making the bivalve a critical puzzle piece in the effort to clean up Chesapeake Bay. Twenty groups, ranging from oyster farmers to research organizations, plan to boost the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population to 10 billion by 2025, improving the Bay’s water quality in the process.


Virginia Oyster Habitat Declared Restored

Oysters are a keystone species in the restoration of polluted waterways since each bivalve filters much as 50 gallons of water per day. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation recently declared an eight-year-long Virginia oyster restoration project complete.


Thank Goodness For Oysters

It’s primetime for oyster season around much of the country. Soundings’ senior editor and resident oyster aficionado, Gary Reich, shares how to enjoy oysters before your Thanksgiving feast, or anytime during the winter.


The Mysterious Love Lives of Oysters

We get a glimpse of the mysterious love lives of oysters at a hatchery on Chesapeake Bay.


No Butt Shucking!

Curtis “Fuzzy” Wilson knows a thing or two about oysters — he’s been shucking them professionally for 35 years. The Virginia native spends the Chesapeake Bay oyster season shucking several bushels of the stubborn bivalves each day, reminding rookies to never open an oyster up from the rear, a shucking faux pas known as “butt shucking.”


Maryland Oyster Population Down By Half Since 1999

When most people think about Chesapeake Bay, crabs and oysters usually come to mind. While blue crab populations have remained relatively stable over the last 15 years, wild oysters are still in trouble.


Maryland Legislature Overrides Oyster Sanctuary Veto

The members of the Maryland Senate overrode the gubernatorial veto of a bill designed to permanently protect five oyster sanctuaries in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay.


Diving For Dollars

For residents of Chesapeake Bay, October is more than just the month to celebrate Halloween — it also marks the start of the annual oyster harvest. Watch as watermen get a jump on the season by scuba diving for these tasty bivalves. WATCH.