Over-harvesting, disease and habitat loss has depleted 99.7% of the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population since the 1800’s. By the 1970’s, the Bay had turned dark and contained one of the planet’s first identified “marine dead zones” where water had become so depleted of oxygen that it could no longer support life. But things are beginning to turn around.
Recent government initiatives and nonprofit groups like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation alongside the rise of sustainable aquaculture practices are working together to restore the vital shellfish population and to revitalize the Chesapeake Bay.
Ocean Cove Seafood is committed to this effort and we’re proud to provide products that taste great, contribute to the local economy and help restore the environment for years to come.
We purchase millions of clam and oyster seed each year and raise them in nursery beds for several months until they are large enough to continue growing in their natural habitat. Farming clams and oysters provides a natural, sustainable source of shellfish that play an important role in replenishing the marine ecosystem. Clams and oysters act as natural water filters, feeding on potentially harmful plankton, phosphates, nitrogen compounds and other organic matter. A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day. Known as “ecosystem engineers,” shellfish can create and support entire ecosystems and their absence can have devastating effects.
For example, shellfish filter out pollutants and particles that cloud water, allowing more sunlight to reach the sub-aquatic bottom. Additional sunlight spurs the growth of primary producers like grasses and other underwater vegetation that serve as a food source for small herbivores like fish, shrimp, and snails. These animals clean the water further and support larger predators, forming a food chain and foundation for a flourishing ecosystem.