CAMBRIDGE, Md.- The University of Maryland Horn Point Laboratory's oyster hatchery program made headlines last year with a record high of 882 million oysters grown. But this year, that record was shattered.
Don Meritt, director of Horn Point's hatchery program, said the lab grew 1.2 billion oysters in 2013, the first time its has ever broken the 1 billion mark.
"If you had asked me 10 or 15 years ago if we could produce 1 billion spat a year, I would have laughed at you," Meritt said.
"I never thought we would get to this point. We've talked about it for many many years, but the fact that we actually accomplished it is pretty amazing," said Stephanie Alexander, the hatchery manager at Horn Point.
Oysters are a valuable commodity in the Chesapeake Bay. Their numbers are lower than they once were, and in the warm months, they filter the water. As they grow, they also form reef like structures that become home to other fish and wildlife. Merritt said that while the steps they are making are important, oysters are not the only key to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.
"Oysters are really important to the Chesapeake Bay," he said. "They are not the only thing that is going to help the bay health, but they are an important species."
The program has also developed a motto over the years.
"Do it better this year than you did last year, do it better next year than you did this year, and this year, once again, we've met that," Meritt said.
Meritt believes that eventually, the program will be able to crack the 2 billion oyster mark.
Wednesday, July 23 2014 3:49 PM EDT2014-07-23 19:49:09 GMT
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