Scientific Research

Research links dramatic declines in Chesapeake Bay oyster population to warmer winters — not overfishing

Research links dramatic declines in Chesapeake Bay oyster population to warmer winters — not overfishing

Warmer winters — not overfishing — have depleted Chesapeake Bay oyster populations in recent decades, according to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Researchers link oyster declines to a weather pattern that brought warmer winters from the early 1980s into the early 2000s, and say the resulting warmer waters reduced reproduction rates, increased predation of juveniles and allowed deadly oyster diseases to thrive.

At the same time, fewer and fewer watermen were trawling bay waterways for oysters, researchers say.

It’s not just oysters — the changing...

48°