Sunday, January 07, 2007

An Oyster Population is Revived By the Rain

The abundance of young, fingernail-sized oysters on New Hampshire is greater than at any time in a quarter century. Scientists think it’s because of heavy rains last May. It makes me wonder if some of the sub-estuaries of Long Island Sound were as lucky. Here’s an excerpt from the Boston Globe:

Baby oysters, millions of them, are fixed to the bay bottom in numbers not seen since scientists started tracking them almost 30 years ago. The discovery was made during underwater surveys in the fall. …

About 12 inches of rain fell over the May 14 weekend, followed by another 2.5 inches on June 7. All that fresh water washing into Great Bay may have given the baby oysters naturally spawned last year an important edge in a critical period of their development, Grout said.

Great Bay oysters produce millions of larval offspring each year, but almost all die in the first few months of life. Those that survive into the following winter are called a set, and this year's set is phenomenal, both men said.

All that rain water may have killed off predators, like green crabs, that eat baby oysters. It's also possible the fresh water kept the oysters from opening up and feeding for a few weeks last spring, thus making them less vulnerable at a critical time in their early lives, Grout said.



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