Maryland's depleted oyster population has more than doubled since 2010, state officials reported Wednesday, giving state scientists hope the bivalves are on track to regain a "substantial foothold" in the Chesapeake Bay after being devastated by diseases over the past 30 years.
An annual fall survey by the Department of Natural Resources found that the number and size of oysters dredged up from more than 250 longtime oyster bars had increased for the third straight year. The oyster "biomass index," as it's known, has reached the highest level measured since around the time the bay's bivalves began to be ravaged by two parasitic diseases.
State scientists credited the increase to a prolonged spell of more than 90 percent of oysters surviving the diseases, Dermo and MSX, which a little over a decade ago were killing off most bivalves. The survey found both diseases well below average, though Dermo remains widespread and is showing an uptick in intensity on some oyster bars in the southern portion of the bay.