BALTIMORE (WJZ) — With shells as hard as rocks, oysters would seem safe from our long stretch of frigid weather.
but it turns out even oysters are feeling the effects of extreme cold and powerful winds, which have created some of the lowest tides on record in some Chesapeake rivers and streams.
“That’s really the worst case scenario, is when you have a really low tide, really low temperatures and really strong winds,” says Patrick Hudson. He grows oysters south of Solomon’s Island for his restaurant, The Local Oyster.
The risk to farm-raised oysters came when those extremely low tides dropped and oysters surfaced into blistering cold air.
According to Hudson, “their shells get really dry and frozen and that’ll kill them.”
The weather has also been taking a toll on the wild harvest, with work boats blocked by ice at their docks. It’s even worse further north, although retailers like The Local Oyster are getting supplies.
“It’s been tough getting product out of New England,” says Nick Schauman, of The Local Oyster. “But the boys down in St. Mary’s County are holding strong and freezing their tails off down there, but they’re getting some oysters for us and we’re doing OK.”
When conditions thaw out, watermen will be back out after wild oysters, but it’s not clear how many farm-raised oysters may have been lost.
According to Hudson, “this kind of weather is every oyster farmer’s nightmare.”
“It’s really rough,” he went on to say. “But we’re obtimistic and we’re hoping for the best.”