Evaluation of grow-out gear on Eastern Oysters (Crassostrea virginica) in Georgia (Final Report)
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Evaluation of grow-out gear on Eastern Oysters (Crassostrea virginica) in Georgia (Final Report)

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    From 2018-2020 we conducted an experimental field test of diploid and triploid eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) grown in floating cages (OysterGro®) and bottom cages (Chesapeake BayOyster Company) in Chatham County, Georgia. Oysters were deployed in 10 floating cages, five at Half moon River (Wassaw Sound) and five in the Skidaway River, and in five bottom cages, in the Skidaway River, in December 2018 with replicated bags in each ploidy assigned to each gear(n=15). Survival, growth and shell dimensions were monitored until February 2020. Condition indices were conducted at conclusion of the study. In terms of growth, triploid oysters significantly outperformed diploid oysters at both locations and within gear treatments. Between gear treatments floating cages outperformed bottom cages. Diploids had greater survival than triploid oysters at each location. Loss of triploid oysters occurred in middle to late summer 2019 when oysters were greater than 50.8 mm, which was not observed to the same extent with diploids. Survival in floating cages was considerably greater than survival in bottom cages which was extremely low. Shell dimensions were similar across ploidy from floating cages, but oyster in Half moon tended to have deeper cup that oysters in the Skidaway. Condition was highest in floating gear with diploids from at each site greater than triploids. Condition in bottom cages was greatest in triploids but both ploidies considerably lagged oysters in floating cages. This study illustrates the benefits and disadvantages of growing diploid and triploid oysters in floating, and bottom cages in Georgia. We conclude that oyster farmers would benefit from growing a mix of diploid and triploid oysters in floating cages to help mitigate summer survival, but that the scale survival will depend upon site and husbandry.
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