In Phase 3, we will turn the clean water protected area into a nursery for raising oysters. Instead of trying to catch a few spats (baby oysters) with a clutch of oyster shells as the spats swim by, we will catch as many of the eggs released by the mature oysters as possible and protect and shelter them until they become spats and can be transferred later to a growing area. The growing areas will be new oyster reefs which can be used for jetties and rip-rap. In many cases, they will be used to rebuild reefs that had been desttroyed many years earlier. For example, we will build our walkway nursery where we intend to construct a rip-rap reef. Any spats not transplanted can remain under the walkway where they provide clutch for future generations, thereby rebuilding a reef and providing rip-rap to protect Big Shell Island from further avulsion.
The mother oysters, usually a second season oyster 12-18 months old, will be harvested with the proper license and permission from the Dept. of Agriculture from an approved shellfish area or purchased from a vendor with a valid certified shellfish license. The oysters will be placed in 12"x16"x14" plastic floatable nursery boxes, contructed with a frame work of plastic tubes and sides made with spaced bio-cord, which will be floated every three feet along the center of the walkway or docks. The spaced openings will be sufficiently large enough to allow food to the ovsters. The boxes will be set where the water is deep enough so that at low tide the oysters will remain under water. The depth in the water will be varied to ensure the maximum amount of egg spread; every box will contain some 6 to 9 month old oyster to insure there are sufficient males to fertilize the eggs.
The filters nursery which are designed to protect the mother oysters will also provide a home for the eggs which will develop into young spats in the matter of few weeks. Bio-cord filters will line the bottom of the nursery box. The oyster eggs are heavier than water and will start to sink, however the egg stage is very brief and after a few days some of the oyster' eggs will ligthen up and start swimming. Like any other microbe, it will attach itself to the filter where food is available. Additional filters will be placed along the sides to catch more active early spats. The filters will be inspected periodical and when the spats reach the proper size (about one inch), the filter membranes with the young oysters will be moved to the growing areas of Phase 5 and the nursery will be fitted with new filters for the next season. The first filters will be recycled for the third season. The nursery boxes will have openings on top where the day camp students can study the progress of the baby oysters. The students will build, evaluate and study various type nursery boxes.