- Associated Press - Sunday, July 31, 2016

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi Alabama Sea Grant Consortium is looking for volunteer oyster gardeners with waterfront property.

The oysters aren’t being grown for consumption but to restore reefs, creating habitat and cleaning water, WLOX-TV (https://bit.ly/2aqYhyj ) reported.

The program provides the “gardens” - wire cages about a foot or so long, seeded with shells on which tiny baby oysters called spat have attached themselves, extension specialist P.J. Waters said.

They’re hung from piers, docks and sea walls so that they hang about a foot above the bottom.

Waters said they need only about 45 minutes of care every 7 to 10 days during the growing season.

“You don’t have to feed them, of course,” he told people Saturday at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center. “They’re feeding on the natural food that’s in the water.”

About all that’s needed, he said, is for them to be shaken periodically and to get mud or algae washed off of them to helps keep the spat free of predators.

By November, the oysters have grown from pinhead-sized to about 2½ inches long and are ready to plant on degraded reef sites

The project began in 2000 in Alabama, and a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant is bringing it into Mississippi, according to the sea grant program’s website.




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