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What Hungry Oysters Need

By Susannah Black
April 28, 2015

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Hidden OysterCam captures Aquaculture teacher Jeremy Esposito working on some oyster feed.

Here’s what’s going on: Oysters eat algae, starting from when they’re free-swimming larvae.  There isn’t any naturally occurring algae in a tank in a lab, so it needs to be introduced as the larvae are setting on their shells. And so part of any oyster operation of any size is growing the algae, the way that part of cattle ranching is growing feed for the cows.  What you want to do is acquire (possibly from another oyster hatchery) a pure algal strain, which you can then introduce into nutrient-enriched sterile saline water and grow yourself a nice crop of algae.

But what algae cultures like to do more than anything is crash.  All kinds of things can put them over the edge: perfume sprayed in the same room the culture’s being grown in, a bacterium that sneaks in, anything.  So what you do is make backups– a lot of backups– and grow the cultures in stages, so that if one batch of culture crashes you’re not a month behind in your annual schedule. And you always keep your original culture pure.

That’s what Jeremy’s up to, above, and that’s what our aquaculture students try their hands at early on in their training.

For more information, see here.