What We Do
Shellfish seed production begins at the Shellfish Group's Solar-assisted Hatchery on the shore of Lagoon Pond in Tisbury, Massachusetts. Constructed in 1980 during the energy crisis, the facility was the nation's first public solar shellfish hatchery.
All the species produced by MVSG (quahogs, oysters, mussels, and bay scallops) are spawned and cultured through planktonic larval stages in the solar hatchery. After setting, the juvenile shellfish are transferred to the Group's Shellfish Nurseries on Chappaquiddick Island in Edgartown and at the former Lobster Hatchery now Hughes Hatchery in Oak Bluffs for further growth in upweller silos.
Eventually, the juvenile shellfish are moved to field nursery systems outside the hatchery and throughout the waters of the member towns. There they grow in warm surface waters protected from predators for one season before being bottom planted on public beds.
Each year the Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group publishes a Seed Shellfish Distribution Report. You can find our reports from as far back at 1999 under the "reports" tab.
Experimenting with Kelp culture: The MVSG has been investigating the potential for seaweed culture under funding from the Edey Foundation. This past season (2015/2016) was our first real success story as we managed to produce high quality kelpling spools of the species Saccharina latissima in our new nursery. A kelp line was deployed on the Cottage City Oysters site in OB as a first attempt to grow the kelp to market size. With every road block we learn more about this new crop. We have secured another season of funding and should be producing kelp lines next fall to deploy all over Vineyard waters to identify the best possible conditions for its success.
The Phragmites Project:
Experimental oyster reef building in Lagoon pond:
The shellfish raised by the MVSG are filter feeders and require several species of phytoplankton to grow and thrive. The species grown in our green house are Tetraselmis chui, a high lipid strain, a Tahitian strain of Isochrysis galbana, and the diatoms (silicaecous life-forms) Thalassiosira weissfloggii, Chaetoceros graclis, and a high lipid strain of Chaetoceros neogracili ("Chaet B").
Oyster Disease Investigations: Both cultured and wild Island oyster populations continue to suffer losses from Juvenile Oyster Disease (JOD) and Dermo. We continue to monitor the status of Dermo, an oyster disease infecting the local oysters in both Edgartown and Tisbury Great Ponds.
Interestingly, a good percentage of the population of oysters in both ponds appears to be surviving in spite of the Dermo infection and experiments have shown that the offspring of broodstock selected from survivors in Edgartown Great Pond are twice as resistant to Dermo as a control population. We have begun to use these Dermo resistant oysters from Edgartown Great Pond as broodstock for our seeding program in Tisbury and Edgartown Great Ponds in hopes of speeding up the recovery of the decimated populations there. Please note that both JOD and Dermo are diseases of oysters and pose no threat to humans consuming the oysters.