Tom Madren provided our speaker, Chris Davis, who is involved in oyster replenishment of our Chesapeake Bay. He provided a wonderful, informative and thought provoking program.
If one went back to the days of Capt John Smith and his visit to our area one would have noticed that there was no erosion damage done to the bay and rivers and one could see 30 feet into the water clearly. Oysters were in abundance back then and served as great food for the native Americans. Oysters eat algae and that keeps our waters clean and pure. In John Smith's time, the local oysters were 12 inches in size and were divided in thirds to eat. By 1850, watermen had begun to over harvest oysters and we never recovered from that loss. Oyster population is about 1% of what it was in the 1800's. The main problems are over harvesting and soil erosion from farms.
We now are building new reefs for oysters to flourish once again. For awhile we toyed with Japanese oysters hoping they would take hold in our waters but that project has been abandoned. We are now trying to make new reefs for our oysters. To have a clean Bay and rivers, we need oysters. Man took them out, now we must put them back. This is something we can do even in our own area of the Rappahannock River. Chris Davis is to be congratulated for his efforts and for a very inspiring program. This Rotarian left with a desire to try to build a reef on his river area.