Once again we decided to be oyster gardeners for the summer. The family with the pier we used last year said we could use it again.
I rounded up 4 other families to help out so we could take turns. Every 5th week we would go clean the oyster cages, remove preditors such as crabs, worms, and oyster drills and scrub the crud off of the oysters and spat. Spat is what the growing oysters are called from their larval stage. They settle on a hard surface (in this case an old, full-sized oyster shell) and grow. When all were clean, we measured a sampling of the spat. The measurements would be sent to the Auburn Shell Lab and they would keep a record of ours and other oyster garden statistics from around the Gulf for their research purposes.
We’ve had fun this summer and the oyster garden season is coming to a close. They’ll be picked up by the Auburn researchers in a few weeks. Shortly after they’ll be added to a reef in the Mobile Bay.
Oyster gardening was a fun homeschool science project for us. Austin is studying Marine Biology this year and it just added to the education. For Travis, well, he likes to do the scrubbing but he learned some things too. Other families involved with our oysters used the time to learn and to enjoy the outdoors. The Bay is really shallow and makes for a great place to kayak, canoe, fish or swim and some of the families took advantage of this. Oyster gardening is a highly recommended activity.
For more information, and if you’d like to get involved next year check out www.oystergardening.org