Oysters are natural filter-feeders that clean the bay every day just by feeding. Unfortunately, due to diseases and over-fishing since the 17th century, oyster populations are significantly lower than they should be. With an increase in pollution from industrialization and not enough oysters to clean it up, the bay has become increasingly dirty and there are some dead zones where there is not enough oxygen in the water for anything to live. An increase in oyster populations would decrease pollution and add to the overall health of the bay.
More information about oysters effect on the bay can be found here: http://www.cbf.org/about-the-bay/more-than-just-the-bay/creatures-of-the-chesapeake/eastern-oyster
I received my oysters on September 14, 2013 as juveniles or spat. They were very tiny and secured onto old shells of mature dead oysters that had been donated to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Oyster Restoration Project in Shady Side Maryland by restaurants and residents that agree to save their shells instead of throwing them away and placing them in baskets throughout the state of Maryland in order for spat to have a natural hard surface to glue themselves to. (http://www.cbf.org/how-we-save-the-bay/programs-initiatives/maryland/oyster-restoration/save-oyster-shell) I made 4 cages and received 2 bags of spat at a training session for oyster gardeners at Greenbury Point in Annapolis. I then brought my oysters back to shady side, divided the two bags of spat into the four cages (Codenames Spatrick, Shelley, Mishell, and Pearl), and placed them in the water, above the bottom of the bay because the oysters will choke to death if they are surrounded by too much sediment at the bottom of the bay. They now need to be cleaned and sunned every two weeks when it is warm enough for them to be out in the air. Washing and sunning the oysters gets rid of any unwanted parasites (such as flatworms) that may live among them, however, oysters cannot be out for too long in the cold winter air without dying so this mostly happens during the summer, fall, and spring. My oysters will stay with me and grow until Mayor June of 2014 when I will take them on a boat to a refuge near Shady Side where it is illegal to hunt them and they can filter the bay peacefully.