Aquaculture Methods Prompt Resurgence Of Virginia's Oyster Industry

In a series of large gray tanks along an inlet off the Chesapeake Bay, groups of oysters no bigger than the tip of a pinky finger have begun to cling to empty oyster shells.

In these tanks, these weeks-old oysters attach to shells while acclimating to water from the Chesapeake Bay that is constantly pumped through the tank. Because oysters are natural filter feeders “the water’s actually going out cleaner than it’s coming in,” says Tim Rapine, managing director of operations at Cherrystone Aqua Farms in Cheriton on the southern end of Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The tanks serve as a transition period for these selectively bred oysters. They have been raised in hatcheries in giant tanks on a diet of rich algae. They’ll spend a few weeks in the tanks before being placed on the bay’s bottom, where they will grow for one to two years before being harvested.

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