Floating just a couple of meters above an oyster reef in Galveston Bay, two scientists working to improve the reef sifted through rock and shell pulled up from the bottom.
"I don't see any spat," said Bryan Legare, a natural resource specialist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as he looked for the small, immature oysters.
"It might be a little early for spat since it's been such a cold winter," said colleague Bill Rodney, an oyster restoration biologist, as they looked over the pile of cultch — the hard material including rock, crushed limestone and shell that oysters attach to.
The young oysters, or spat, will develop as the weather warms, but the pressing question is whether the right conditions will exist for them to grow to mature oysters, which then become part of a multimillion business and which fill an important ecological niche.
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