Low salinity wallops oysters in Chesapeake Bay
Aquaculture, restoration efforts and fishery hurt as unrelenting rain earlier in the year made much of Bay water too fresh, causing die-offs and delayed spawning
The rains have finally let up, but they’ve dealt a serious blow to the Chesapeake Bay’s oysters — and to the people who make a living harvesting, cultivating or restoring them.
Oysters need at least a little salt in their environment to live and a bit more to thrive. The record-setting downpours that began last year and continued through the first half of this year flushed so much freshwater into the Chesapeake that salinity sank to abnormally low levels.
In some places in Maryland and on the Potomac River, where the water turned almost completely fresh for months on end, oysters died in droves. Those that survived elsewhere didn’t grow much, and reproduction was spotty.