Is Oyster Crisis Over? Researchers Say Not So Fast

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Oystermen are excited about their harvest this summer, pulling in bushels throughout the day.

"So far the oyster season, starting this summer season, is looking real good," said David Barber, owner of Barber's Seafood. "There seems to be plenty of oysters and a good size to them."

But researchers say that positive outlook may be short lived. Researchers with the Florida State University Coastal Marine Lab say they've found proof that things aren't as they seem in the bay with the oyster population. They say that due to the high salt level in the water, there's been an explosion in the number of crown conch.

"Not surprisingly there's a lot less oyster survivorship, really not a whole lot of oysters that are down there on the reefs," said Hanna Garland. "From our experiment we're finding that in tandem with the high salinity readings that we've been getting from our environmental loggers and our equipment there's definitely a presence of these predators throughout the bay."

Even though oystermen may not see the bigger picture now, Barber agrees that the abundance may not last pointing to concern about the number of oysters that will be available when the winter season starts, however he does remain hopeful that this could be a turnaround.

"The river always got above the banks every year after Christmas and it was natural and for the last three years we haven't had that until this year," he said. "So this is a good cycle hopefully that we're going through that will make the oysters reproduce."