writes; rather, it represented the efforts of 1,700 dredge boats and 3,000 tongers working at the time in Maryland alone ~ breaking apart the dense but widely separated reefs in which oysters naturally occurred ~ and scattering the mollusks far and wide. For a time, this scattering must have seemed an improvement, as oysters, freed from their reefs, grew fuller and fatter and easier to harvest. Now we know it also made them more vulnerable to covering by sediment, and it destroyed the massive capacity of the reefs, themselves, to harbor myriad other Bay life. Perhaps though, it explains the belief, deeply held to this day by oystermen, that “working” the bottom is vital to healthy oysters, even as science guides us toward establishing sanctuaries where reefs can once again form.
trawls. He’d explain how it paled in comparison to what similar trawls had y ielded just 25 or 30 years before ~ before the big declines in seagrasses and oxygen hit the Chesapeake. “But they just didn’t get it,” the old captain said. “You don’t know what you never saw.” So Kennedy’s fine and readable effort, released in late November 2018, does a real service as modest upturns in Bay water quality have us daring to think about what a “saved” Chesapeake might look like. It’s not just about quantity. While the book describes oysters stretching almost continuously for 140 miles along the Eastern Shore, from Kent Island to Cape Henry, in 1869, that was grossly unlike the original state of oysters in the Chesapeake. Kennedy
March 2019 Tidewater Times