Md. Oyster Survival Rate At Highest In Years

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Oysters have been struggling to hang on in the bay, but now there’s a glimmer of hope on the half shell.

Alex DeMetrick reports the oyster’s survival rate is the highest it’s been in at least 15 years.

A Maryland survey finds oysters have hit a 92 percent survival rate against diseases that have killed massive numbers in the past.

“There are some hints of disease resistance from further south in Virginia. We’re not sure of that in Maryland but it could be some disease resistance is developing in the population,” said Mike Naylor, Department of Natural Resources.

That’s half the good news. In Maryland’s southern part of the bay, watermen not only found plenty of healthy oysters this season, they’re finding baby oysters that attach to older shells.

“There’s a lot of young oysters from last year’s set and hopefully the disease doesn’t affect them and they grow up and we’ll have some oysters in a couple of years,” said waterman John Orme.

But if oysters in the southern part of the bay are showing promise, it’s a different story in the north.

After tropical weather flooded the bay with fresh water at the end of last summer, some oyster bars were wiped out.

And where there were only empty shells, there was no catch.

“Most everybody didn’t have a choice. They couldn’t make a living up here, so they went down the bay,” said Orme.

“We’re very excited about what we’re seeing with oysters in the bay right now,” said Naylor.

The current survival rate is more than double what it was 10 years ago, when disease killed 58 percent of the bay’s oysters.

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