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Caring For Your Oyster Cages

“A Bit of Fuss for a Year = A Bunch of Filterers for a Lifetime”  

Cage Handling:

Oysters grow during the warmer months and become dormant when the weather turns cold. Change your cage placement in late Fall and early Spring to promote oyster growth and survival.  

Late Summer (August/September): High Not Dry

  • Get your new oysters in the water within 2 hours of delivery.
  • Tie the cage with the oysters about one foot below the low water level. Oysters grow best in the upper water column where food and oxygen are plentiful, but they must stay wet.

Fall: Change Your Clock/Low & Slow at the Dock

  • Lower the cages until the oysters are just above the river bottom and will be covered with water even during extreme low tides or storms. Oyster become dormant and can remain healthy even if entirely encased in ice. But, they will die if exposed to freezing air temperatures or buried in sediment.

Spring: Back Up at the Dock

  • Raise the cages up to about one foot below the low water level once the risk of freezing air temperatures has past.

Late Spring/Early Summer (May/June): Up & Out

  • Return your oysters your Severn River Maryland Grow Oysters organization.
  • Your Severn-raised oysters will be placed on a sanctuary reef in the Severn River where they will be protected from harvesting and can promote water quality for their lifetime.  

Care & Maintenance:

Oysters require water flow to survive and grow. Take a few simple actions during the warmer months to keep the cage mesh open and free of fouling organism.  

  • Shake: To discourage growth of barnacles and algae, clean once a week by simply pulling the cage up and down in the water column several times.
  • Rattle: If the cage becomes fouled, brush the bars to remove build up and rinse with a hose. To remove excessive fouling, oysters in cages can be removed from the water in warm weather for up to 2 hours. Fouling organisms will dry out and die and can be brushed from the bars more easily. (Caution: 3 hours of heat or sun exposure may kill the oysters).
  • Roll: Gently redistribute the oysters after cleaning to prevent oysters from growing shell around the mesh of the cage.