2010 was a great year for oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. According to the MD DNR's annual oyster survey, recruitment rates and oyster survival were the highest since 1985 (MD DNR press release). 1997 also saw an exceptional spatfall (spat are recently settled oysters that "rain" out of the water column) but only on the eastern shore oyster bars, whereas this year, oysters recruited throughout the Bay, even in lower salinity waters where recruitment events are rare. Dermo and MSX diseases, major sources of mortality for Bay oysters, were at a low. I'm looking forward to getting back in the Rhode River at SERC to see if any recruits came our way (although the Rhode is never a major area for oyster production).
The MD DNR oyster survey has been conducted since 1939, one of the longest running of its kind, and includes 260 oyster bars.