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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lynhaven River Oysters Have Not Arrived

Yep - I'd been looking forward to a few dozen oysters that were supposed to have looked just like this:

I guess that I will have to be content with oysters from more reputable farms.

Oyster season is coming very soon and I look forward to reviewing the harvest from as many Chesapeake Bay Oyster Farms as possible - stay tuned.

In the meantime: join the Facebook group:

Chesapeake Bay Oyster Farms

Until the next post... enjoy Chesapeake Bay Oysters!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lynnhaven River Oysters

I love finding new good oyster farms, and am looking forward to getting my first shipment from Lynnhaven River Oysters.

"Fresh, outstandingly good, live oysters from the Lynnhaven River Estuary of the Chesapeake Bay".

How could I resist ordering after reading their ad copy from their website: Tell me if this doesn't just make your mouth water:

"Salty and with that wonderful fresh ocean taste - directly from the boat to your home.

World Famous - The Favorite of Presidents and Royalty

The unique environment of the Lynnhaven River Estuary produces oysters that have been acclaimed around the world for their wonderfully salty taste of the ocean. The taste of oysters is highly dependent on their living conditions. They prefer a mix of fresh water and seawater and tolerate a range of saltiness (salinity). Generally the saltier the water (up to the limit in which oysters thrive) the better the taste of the oysters. Because our oysters live at the very southern end of the Chesapeake Bay where it meets the ocean the water has that desirable high salinity and ideal conditions exist for producing the best tasting oysters you can find".

My shipment is on it's way.. and I will post whether they live up to the hype or not. Mmmmm. In fact, I will try a new oyster recipe with these and post it on - be sure to check it out!

Here is an earlier post made on this blog: Lynnhaven Oysters Make a Comeback: Here is the obvious sign of this comeback!!!

Read the post here:

Check back for the review...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Virginia's First Oyster Co-op Launched

Businessmen, watermen and scientists have collaborated to launch Virginia's first privately funded oyster co-op.

The Oyster Company of Virginia, founded in August by Northern Neck businessman W. Tolar Nolley, is goinf to equip a dozen watermen with the resources they need to farm oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.

The cooperative will lease acres of bay bottom from the state, and buy oyster seed and cages to grow the oysters. Salaried watermen will then plant the seeds, and harvest and sell the mature oysters.

Profits from the program will pay the watermen's salary, fund the purchase of new equipment, and expand the program, said Ken Smith, president of the Virginia State Waterman's Association.

"I've never seen 12 people so excited in my life," said Smith, chief operating officer of the cooperative, which will officially unveil its plans Thursday at The Watermen's Museum in Yorktown.

Chesapeake oysters have been plagued for decades by disease, loss of habitat and pollution. They are at less than 1 percent of their peak historic population. Many watermen have resisted calls to abandon the centuries-old hunter-gatherer approach in favor of oyster farming, also known as aquaculture.

The industry has made numerous advances in the last decade, most notably developing more disease-tolerant oyster seeds, that have made aquaculture a more viable option. That, combined with the endorsement of Smith and others trusted by watermen, led to the cooperative's formation.

It hopes to reruit more watermen in the coming years and attract corporate support by promoting the program as a way to reduce bay pollution, Smith said. Oysters, which filter up to 50 gallons of water per day, help rid the bay of excess nutrients that cause dead zones and other problems.

"The oyster has a positive effect cleaning up the bay," Smith said.

The cooperative plans to lobby state and federal officials to include their efforts in the "pollution diet" the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is drafting for the bay.

The effort is similar to one introduced two years ago by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. It used part of the $15 million it received to revive the Chesapeake's blue crab population to train dozens of watermen to farm oysters.

In addition to oyster farming, Oyster Company of Virginia has partnered with Reeftek Inc., a reef-building company run by Middle Peninsula businessman Robert Jensen. The cooperative will work will Reeftek to create oyster sanctuaries, Smith said.


Oyster Festivals:

Oyster Facts: Basic Oyster Facts:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Oyster Festivals

Oyster festivals are the EVENT OF THE YEAR for oyster lovers!

I am not a vendor, oysterman, or merchant. You will not see me at a festival offering or selling anything. I am just an fan and oyster lover.

I enjoy the oysterfest atmosphere (almost as much as I love eating oysters).

The people that you meet and the sounds and experiences makes one feel good to be alive.

Just imagine any county fair that you have been to:

The sounds, the smells, the tastes. All of that and more can be found in any oyster festival.

You can also find ALL of the usual fare: Corndogs, Italian sausages and Phillys, funnel cakes, and of course candy apples, and Peanut butter and Jelly on a stick? - (it's probably pretty good).

PB&J on a stick - photo by Cheryl Carlin.


Now of course, I am going for the oysters...

I will most likely hit a good half dozen vendors - which are usually churches or civic organizations - and buy (and eat) 1/2 dozen oysters from each.

My choice of fried, raw, or steamed on the half shell will depend on the conversations that I have with the employees working the tent. I like to engage the workers around the corner or at the back of the tent.

If the group is a church that is opening jars of shucked oysters and frying in a secret recipe - well... - give me an order of fried oysters RIGHT NOW! - with a healthy portion of their homemade dipping sauce - mmmmmm.

If the tent represents a local restaurant who buys fresh from local oystermen - and I talk with the guy in charge and believe that the oysters that they are serving right then were pulled from the water earlier - well they need to immediately serve me some oysters raw - on the half shell (probably a full dozen).

Anything questionable - give me 1/2 dozen steamed on the half shell - and I'm moving on.

To all of my readers:
I'm sorry that I haven't posted for a while. It;s all thanks to the new job and all. I will return soon.

Check out the new recipe that I posted on our blog: OYSTER BLOG

I hope to see you all at the 53rd Annual Oyster Festival in Urbanna Virginia. November 5th and 5th 2010.

Check out the oyster festival website: HERE


Oyster Facts: Basic Oyster Facts:

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Chesapeake Bay is Fighting its Own 'Oil Spill'

Baltimore Sun reporter Tim Wheeler posted this thought-provoking item on the B'More Green blog.

This map shows the BP Gulf oil slick superimposed over the Chesapeake Bay.

That really puts things into perspective.

For those of us in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, here’s another thought: the Bay has been struggling against a similarly sized danger for years in the form of high levels of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment pollution.

In a recent post on Chronicling the Chesapeake Bay, CBF Senior Scientist Beth McGee notes there are many similarities between the Gulf disaster and the Bay’s poor health. The big difference is one you can see and one you can't.

"I think it is in a sense that nitrogen is our oil," said McGee. Degraded water quality makes portions of the Bay unlivable for fish, oysters, and crabs.

It also puts stress on those that remain, making them more susceptible to disease, "which is exactly what oil does."

"We’re not outraged because it's not in our face, like it is in the face of the folks in the Gulf," said McGee, referring to the fact that views of our waterways from the surface are misleading, as most of the damage is taking place underwater.

The reality is that what is happening to communities in Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana is exactly what has been happening for years to communities in Virginia, Maryland, and throughout the Bay watershed—people can't go fishing, they can't buy fresh seafood, and those who make a living off the water have lost and continue to lose their livelihood and their culture.

That's why CBF is fighting hard for passage of the Chesapeake Clean Water Act, the most significant legislation for the Bay's future health since the 1972 Clean Water Act.

As for whether the Gulf spill will make its way to Virginia’s shoreline: "it’s highly unlikely", as stated by a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, as reported by

Any oil that makes it into the Gulf Stream—which flows fairly close to North Carolina before veering east into the Atlantic—will likely remain in the stream.

However, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation will continue to monitor the situation.

While the oil might not make its way to the Chesapeake Bay region, its impact on the Gulf's oyster fishery has.

Bay-area oyster processors who rely on Gulf oysters have lost work and restoration efforts that rely on Gulf shell anticipate shortages.


Next Page: Basic Oyster Facts:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Basic Oyster Facts

Here are some oyster basics:

The native eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, usually lives in water depths of between 8 and 25 feet and naturally forms three-dimensional intertidal reefs.

An oyster orients itself with the flared edge of its shell tilted upward. The left valve is cupped, while the right valve is flat. The shell opens periodically to permit the oyster to feed on plankton.

Oysters usually mature by age one. They are protandric, which means that in the first year they spawn as males, but as they grow larger and develop more energy reserves in the next two to three years, they spawn as females.

An increase in water temperatures triggers the male oyster to release sperm and the female to release eggs into the water. This triggers a chain reaction of spawning which clouds the water with millions of eggs and sperm. A single female oyster produces 10 to 100 million eggs annually.

The eggs are fertilized in the water and soon develop into larvae, or veligers, which are drawn to the chemicals released by older oysters on the bottom. Oysters need to settle in a suitable spot, such as another oyster’s shell. Juvenile attached oysters are called “spat.”


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oyster Management and Restoration

Oyster reefs are more than just habitat, they are complex and diverse communities.

Bay Program partners developed the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Management Plan to help restore and maintain the valuable ecological services provided by native oysters while continuing to support an oyster fishery. The strategy described in the Oyster Management Plan consists of three components: Defining oyster sanctuaries, managing harvest and overcoming the effects of disease.

Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration

However, it is important to understand that the Bay's poor water quality is not due solely to the loss of the oyster population and, therefore, cannot be corrected by restoring oysters alone. Other pressures on the Bay's ecosystem—including land use practices and nutrient and sediment pollution—must be addressed for future oyster and water quality restoration efforts to be successful.

Oyster Sanctuaries

The first component of the oyster management strategy defines sanctuaries—areas where harvesting is prohibited—to increase the ecological function of oyster beds.

Scientists also improve habitat in these areas by cleaning sediment off the reefs and adding cultch (clean, empty shells or other hard material) for new spat to settle on.

By restoring oyster reefs and protecting them from harvest, there is potential to increase populations of spawning adult oysters and, in turn, larval production.
In the short term, factors like disease and water quality will significantly limit the success of oyster sanctuaries and the increase in oyster populations; however, sanctuaries will become important contributors to oyster restoration if disease resistance is allowed to evolve over time in wild populations and is supported by management practices.

Decisions about where to locate sanctuaries are guided by the Virginia Oyster Restoration Plan, developed by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC); and by Maryland's Priority Restoration Areas, developed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) and the Maryland Oyster Roundtable Steering Committee.

Managing Oyster Harvest

The second component of the oyster management strategy implements harvest strategies to build a sustainable oyster industry in both Maryland and Virginia.

The main strategy for regulating harvest and enhancing harvest potential is to establish sanctuaries and special management areas throughout the Bay.
The ideal situation is to estimate the amount of oysters that can be taken safely from the population while maintaining a sustainable Bay-wide population of oysters.
A major challenge is to determine what level of exploitation is appropriate and will not compromise restoration efforts.

Management strategies for the Maryland oyster fishery are considered by a number of advisory groups working with MD DNR. In Virginia, oyster harvest is managed on a bar-specific basis.

Oyster Disease

The third component of the oyster management strategy recognizes the constraints of disease and implements management strategies that reduce the impact of disease.

A major challenge to oyster restoration in the Bay is to overcome the effects of the diseases MSX and Dermo. It is estimated that, by age 3, 80 percent or more of a year class in high disease areas (i.e., the Virginia portion of the Bay) will die due to disease.

Maryland and Virginia confront different problems concerning disease. Virginia oysters are faced with constant disease pressure because MSX and Dermo thrive in warmer, saltier waters. Maryland's situation is more variable depending on weather conditions.

Research efforts have been underway for a number of years to breed strains of native oysters with greater disease resistance. Current research will give scientists a better understanding of how these disease-tolerant strains could contribute to large-scale oyster restoration efforts.

Recently, it has been found that oysters in areas subject to high exposure to MSX are evolving to resist the disease. Scientists and managers are adjusting harvest and sanctuary management strategies to optimize the long-term benefits of the development of MSX resistance.

Introduction of a Non-native Oyster

In response to the decline in the native oyster population, Maryland and Virginia have proposed intentional introduction of a non-native oyster species, Crassostrea ariakensis (also known as Suminoe or Asian oyster). This species is believed to have greater resistance to MSX and Dermo.

Considerable controversy exists over this proposal, and many questions remain about the possible implications of introduction. In 2003, the U.S. Congress mandated that an environmental impact statement (EIS) be prepared to examine both the risks and benefits of introducing this species to the Bay, compared with the risks and benefits of other management alternatives. A draft EIS is expected to be released in 2008.

In 2004 the National Research Council of the National Academies published its year-long study, Nonnative Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. This independent study is the most complete analysis to date on the possible introduction of non-native oysters into the Bay.

According to the study, introduction of a non-native oyster should be delayed until more is known about the environmental risks. However, carefully regulated cultivation of sterile Asian oysters in contained areas could help both researchers and the Bay's oyster industry.

The study also noted that it could take decades before there are enough oysters to improve water quality. While Asian oysters would filter excess algae from the water, they would not be a “quick fix” to restore water quality.


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