• Preliminary recruitment studies of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, and their potential applications, in coastal Georgia

      O'Beirn, F.X.; Heffernan, P.; Walker, R.L. (Elsevier, 1995)
      Oyster recruitment was monitored in Wassaw Sound, Georgia from April through October, 1991. The study was initiated to determine precise recruitment patterns of oysters over the 7 month spawning season. One of the goals was to determine the most suitable time for the collection of natural spat for maricultural, fisheries and recreational purposes. Three sites of varying hydrographic characteristics were chosen in Wassaw Sound. The sites varied in terms of temperature and salinity regimes and in their exposure to wind and wave action. Within each site, oyster recruitment was estimated at three tidal heights; subtidally, at mean low water and intertidally, approximately 2 h above the mean low water mark. Sampling took place so as to measure net recruitment over biweekly (BW), monthly (M) and seasonal ( S) periods. The results indicated that the recruitment of oysters in this region of coastal Georgia is protracted, lasting 6 months (May through October). The levels of recruitment were very high relative to other regions on the east coast of the USA, with peak recruitment for the entire study area (x = 2800 spat m- 2 for BW and x = 3020 spat m- 2 for M) occurring between July and September. The intensity of recruitment varied significantly among the three sites. The most sheltered site in terms of wave exposure experienced the highest recruitment (x =4380 spat m- 2 BW; x = 6260 spat m -2 M). This site also had higher overall water temperatures as well as greater daily temperature fluctuations. The least sheltered site had the lowest numbers of young oysters (x = 1000 spat m- 2 BW; X. = 686 spat m- 2 M), as well as having the most stable temperature regime. The biweekly samples generally experienced higher recruitment subtidally at the three sites. The monthly samples had higher numbers of oyster spat at the mean low water mark while the seasonal samples showed significantly higher recruitment intertidally (up to x =7353 spat m-2 ). The shift in recruitment patterns over time is partially attributed to increased subtidal predation pressure on the recruits. The collection of natural spat in relation to the natural fishery, potential maricultural activity and the recreational fishery is discussed.