Evaluating Substrate Rehabilitation Techniques for Bottom Culture of the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) in Chesapeake Bay

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The degradation of Chesapeake Bay bottom conditions and oyster beds over the past century from habitat destruction, overharvesting, disease, and sedimentation have resulted in many areas that are detrimental for healthy oyster populations. In leased oyster aquaculture areas, unsuitable bottom characteristics result in suboptimal survival. Although the addition of oyster shell as substrate has been a common practice for building new oyster beds, the current high cost and lack of available shell can make this approach impractical. The goal of this study was to measure the effects of new and traditional bottom rehabilitation techniques (harrowing and shell addition) on oyster survival and growth on three distinct bottom types. The data revealed that treatments, whether singularly or in combination, were insignificant in respect to oyster size and survival across all bottom types. However, the observed bottom type had a significant effect on the percentage of oyster survival.