By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– As spring heads toward summer, it’s time for oysters raised by volunteers in the Inner Harbor to move.

It’s a process that started last summer, when oyster larvae raised in the lab, attach to clean empty shells, tiny little spots appear called spat.

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When big enough they went into cages last fall, and were lowered into the Inner Harbor by volunteers. It’s called oyster gardening.

“Well I tend to the oyster cages and just make sure they have an healthy environment to grow,” said Paige Holden of the Harbor East Marina last year.

And grow they did, in water too polluted for people to swim in.

“Like to see life in the harbor, the misconception that there isn’t life in the harbor but it’s been great,” said Carmera Thomas of the Healthy Harbor Initiative.

The oysters caught a break from the weather this past winter.

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“They look like they’re doing really well. We had a lot of success  and because of the mild winter a lot of survival rate. The survival rate is really high. It’s looking good,” said Jocelyn Tuttle of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The volunteers that grew out the oysters come from waterfront businesses like BGE and Brown Advisory.

Although the program extends to service organizations and even school kids, the oysters all end up in the same place, past the Key Bridge to a sanctuary reef off Carroll Island in the outer harbor.

They’ll be off limits to fishing, but not to filtering water, up to 50 gallons per day per oyster.

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