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Innovation Like asparagus, however, it takes two years to get the first harvest. So, what’s involved in oyster farming? You plant baby oysters in a suitable place, watch over them for two years while the Bay feeds them, and when they are market size you pluck them up and sell them. It’s simple enough in theory, but in practice there are some real complications ~ and much hard work. First, there is the tricky question of “seed.” (You may have noticed that I skipped gaily over the “planting” of baby oysters.) Oysters aren’t plants, they’re animals, and curious ones at that. Like many other critters, they go through a larval stage, so to

understand the complications, let’s (quickly) review the oyster life cycle. Eggs ~ Adult oysters squirt out eggs into the water, and others provide sperm. Now here’s a great Scrabble word for you ~ oysters are protandric. It means they change sex. Young adult oysters about a year old tend to be male, but a year or so later ~ perhaps when they’ve gotten some sense? ~ they become female. Fer tilized eggs are ver y small, of course, microscopic. The cells quickly divide, however, and an oyster larva soon develops. Larvae ~ Oyster larvae swim about, feeding and growing and, sadly, being gobbled up by predators such as blue crabs and fish. (Everybody loves oysters, right?)

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