Gathering oysters in the field from reefs in the Apalachicola Bay System ensures that the offspring reared in the lab for habitat and restoration experiments come from local environments.
Restoration experiments are central to ABSI's work in identifying the locations in Apalachicola Bay that will have the highest chance of rebuilding local oyster populations. Our research hatchery was constructed to produce oyster spat (juveniles) on shell, which can be placed on our restoration experiments to see whether this approach can ‘kick-start’ oyster habitat recovery. The first step is collecting adult oysters from Apalachicola Bay to use as broodstock, cleaning them thoroughly, and maintaining them in the laboratory so that they can provide eggs and sperm to produce larval oysters when needed. When the larvae are ready to turn into juveniles, we provide clean oyster shell for them to settle on. We then allow them to feed and grow at the hatchery until they are old enough to put out on the experiments. The hatchery team in charge of operations includes FSU graduate students Emily Fuqua and Morgan Hawkins and hatchery technicians Benton Jaco, Reid Tilley and Louis Lockhart, plus our six hatchery interns. Click on the images below to learn about the hatchery process.