News Feature: The complex case of Chesapeake Bay restoration
"On a warm October day, six researchers ventured out to a reef in Baines Creek, a tributary of Virginia’s Elizabeth River. Back in 2014, the Army Corps of Engineers had dumped tons of fossil oyster shells into the water in the hopes of attracting more of one of the key inhabitants of the Chesapeake Bay—oysters. Now the researchers, wearing masks and socially distancing as they wade through the water at low tide, are measuring the progress.
What they are finding is just astounding, says Romuald Lipcius, professor of fisheries science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) at Gloucester Point, and also the School of Marine Science at William & Mary University. The team counts hundreds of oysters growing on each square meter of reef. Some oysters had reached the ripe old age of five, once considered unachievable because of diseases that had been introduced into the Bay; oysters’ fecundity increases exponentially with size and age. “All these oysters peeking above the water is a beautiful sight,” says William & Mary professor of geology Rowan Lockwood, who studies fossil oysters. “It is a glimpse of what the Bay was like 6,000 years ago.” And maybe, what it could be like again. . ."