Maintenance 10-6-13 to 10-12-13

Thank you very much for your participation in the Marylanders Grow Oysters (MGO) program for the 2013-2014 growing season.

This year we will be sending you regular letters regarding the maintenance of your cages. Initially, we will be sending you weekly letters. As the cold weather progresses and cage fouling issues go by the wayside, our maintenance letters will become infrequent. As the weather warms in the Spring, we will ultimately return to weekly maintenance letters.

Because the cages are suspended from your dock, it is easy for them to become “out-of-sight, out of mind”. Routine maintenance of the cages will help to prevent / control fouling, which will allow the oysters to grow more quickly and the cages from becoming too heavy.


  • On Saturday when I checked my oysters, there was very little growth or “fouling” on the cages. If you have not done so, please lift up each cage and actively dunk the cage up and down in the water several times – like steeping a tea bag – to remove the silt and sediment from the oyster larvae (“spat”). The silt and sediment can actually smother the spat and kill them. Next, give your cages a quick shake to keep the oysters from growing together. When you are done, make sure the oyster shells are evenly distributed on the bottom of the cage. Next, I left my cages on the dock for an hour. This allowed for what little growth that had occurred to dry out and die  I had some work to do on my boat while I was waiting, so it was not possible for me to forget to put them back in the water. If you go back into the house while your cages are drying, you might want to set a timer to remind yourself to put them back in the water. If they are left out for more than about two hours, the spat can die. IN THE EARLY STAGES OF SPAT DEVELOPMENT AVOID USING YOUR HOSE OR POWER WASHER TO CLEAN THE CAGES. The pressure of the hose and power washer can kill the spat.  Make sure that your cages are at least six inches off of the creek or river bottom. Our volunteers who did the delivery were instructed to tie the cages so that they were six inches off of the bottom. It is possible that the knots could have slipped. The spat will die if the cages are left to sit on the creek or river bottom.

That’s it for this week. Please call Kelsey at 410-822-9143 if you have any problems with the maintenance of your cages. Talk to you next week!

The Oyster Reef Recovery Initiative