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How It Used To Be
- Chesapeake Bay is derived from the Powhotan Indian name “CHESEPIOOC” meaning “Great Shellfish Bay”
- In 1884 the high harvest for oysters was 15 million bushels
- In 2010 the annual harvest was 185,245 bushels
- The Chesapeake Bay has lost 99% of its historic oyster population
- A single mature oyster can filter up to 55 gallons of water per day, they remove silt, sediment, and nitrates and provide a key habitat to other marine species
- At one point in time oysters were so plentiful they could filter the entire Bay in 3.3 days (83 billion oysters). Now it takes over 700 days to filter the entire bay and the oysters can’t filter fast enough to balance the ecosystem.
- If oysters can’t filter the water fast enough then sunshine can’t penetrate the water, subsequently the sea grasses won’t grow, and thousands of species lose their food supply. Essentially this causes a collapse of the ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay. There then becomes less Blue Crabs, less Rockfish, and many other species we enjoy that we don’t necessarily associate with oysters.