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What killed the oyster larvae?

by Larry Chowning

Virginia’s oyster industry got a shock in March when one of its most productive hatcheries lost several hundred million oyster larvae. The larvae mysteriously all died or stopped producing, and then started producing again last week.

Oyster Seed Holdings on Callis Wharf in Gwynn’s Island lost the oyster larvae at the same time construction workers started sandblasting and painting the John Andrew Twigg Bridge across the Piankatank River. When Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward halted the painting work on the bridge, the larvae began producing again. 

“We are still trying to sort this thing out,” said Jim Wesson, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) Oyster Replenishment Director. “We know that Oyster Seed Holdings has been producing larvae successfully at the Gwynn’s Island lab for six years. They had a very good winter. They had a good January, February and first half of March. Then, all the larvae died and there was little to no production until last week.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 06.18.2014

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