Tal Petty calls the water in his corner of the Patuxent River “magic.”
The oysters living in its depths draw a special mineral taste from clay on the river floor and fossils along the shore, he said. Those oysters would not even be there if it were not for Petty, who grows them in underwater cages before selling them nationwide.
His business is quite a bit different from that of traditional watermen, who tong the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries for wild oysters. Environmentalists argue it is an improvement because adding oysters to the bay means adding thousands of natural filters capable of removing harmful nitrogen and sediment as they feed.
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