Rehoboth Beach, Del. — The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is now recruiting interested individuals for its Oyster Gardening Program, a restoration effort that brings scientists and residents together to restore local American oysters in the Inland Bays.
This program began in 2003, and works with residents to raise small amounts of oysters in the waters of the Inland Bays surrounding their docks and bulkheads. The Center offers the training, guidance and supplies needed, while participants care for the oysters for about one year. The Center then collects the 1-year-old oysters for use in various restoration or research projects throughout the Inland Bays (these oysters ARE NOT intended for consumption).
“The Center’s Oyster Gardening Program is an excellent example of how partnerships between local environmental organizations and residents can lead to positive impacts in the natural areas that we all love and enjoy,” said Nivette Pérez-Pérez, the Center’s Project Manager.
Oysters have the unique power to improve water quality as they eat. By filtering algae and other particles from the water, they also remove excess nutrients that pollute our Bays. One adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water each day! As they grow, oysters solidly attach to each other, creating reefs that serve as shelter and spawning areas for organisms like blue crabs and recreationally important fish like summer flounder and black sea bass.
To be an Oyster Gardener, volunteers should be able to lift about 25 pounds, own or have access to a private, waterfront property on tidal waters (such as canals, creeks, or Bays) and possess basic computer skills. Gardeners are required to periodically clean the oysters and record all time spent using a simple online log. To learn more about the program, go to inlandbays.org/oyster-
Oysters and gear will be available to new gardeners in early July. A $50 annual program membership donation is requested in order to help cover the cost for oyster sets, spat, training and program maintenance.
To apply to be an Oyster Gardener, please fill out an application at www.inlandbays.org/
The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a nonprofit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the Center works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed.