On Sunday when I checked my oysters, there was a fair amount of growth or “fouling” on my cages. In addition to my observations, Julie observed an abundance of Tunicates, while out checking on cages this past week. These Tunicates are known locally by the watermen as “Sea Squirts”. Sea Squirts are described on the Chesapeake Bay Programs website as, “… a tunicate with a rounded leathery body and two short siphons. It lives on reefs, pilings and other hard surfaces in the shallow waters of the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay.” While the sea squirts are harmless and are also filter feeders, they will compete for space with your growing spat in the cages. If you are experiencing an influx of the sea squirts your will want to scrape them off your cages or remove them from the insides of your cages by simply wiping them off the cage or removing a growing cluster from within your cage. If you have any questions or concerns about this please call Julie at the office.
Here’s what you should do for maintenance this week:
- Actively dunk your cages up and down in the water – like steeping a tea bag – to remove the silt and sediment from the oyster shells and “spat”, so that they don’t smother and die.
- Give your cages a quick shake to keep the oysters from growing together.
- Leave the cages on the dock for about an hour so that any growth that has occurred on the cages will dry out and die.
- Set a timer so that you don’t forget to put your oysters back in the water!
- Make sure that the oysters are evenly distributed on the bottom of the cage and put them back in the water.
AVOID USING YOUR HOSE OR POWER WASHER TO CLEAN THE CAGES. The pressure of the hose or power washer could kill small spat.
CRITICAL: Please make sure your cages NEVER rest on the creek or river bottom. If they do, the oysters can quickly become covered with mud and will smother and die.
That’s it for this week. Please call Julie at 410-822-9143 if you have any problems with the maintenance of your cages. Talk to you next week!
Scott W. Eglseder, Founder
The Chesapeake Bay Oyster Reef Recovery Initiative