Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Big Job of Restoring Oysters to the Chesapeake

In 1987 Tom Horton, an author based on the Chesapeake, summed up conditions down there for me in one pithy sentence: "It's hard to believe we could fuck up an estuary this big," and yet here we are two decades later, having succeeded so completely in fucking things up, that we have to spend extraordinary energy to restore an animal population that was once abundant beyond reckoning.

“What we need are thousands of acres of permanently restored sanctuary reefs to turn this situation we have with the oyster around,” said David M. Schulte, a doctoral student at the institute and an author of a paper published in Science last week that describes the work. The sanctuaries would aid the oyster harvest by helping to seed nearby areas, but the overall effort would benefit the bay in other ways, by helping to clean the water and providing more habitat for fish, crabs and other marine life.

If it were only the Chesapeake it would be bad enough, but of course it's not.


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