The increase in disease related mortality has made managing oyster resources increasingly difficult. In Delaware Bay sustaining harvest requires specific information on growth rates of adult oysters on the different beds. We reviewed the literature and found such information, particularly that depicting oyster growth directly on subtidal oyster beds, lacking. We used three methods to determine growth of oysters on Delaware Bay seed beds: measuring the new growth at the lip of oysters retrieved from the bottom, tethering individually identifiable oysters on specially designed frames, and size-at-age information based on ages developed from check marks in growth lines in the oyster hinge. Measuring new growth on the lip of the oyster was not accurate. Use of the frames was exact but very labor intensive and only provided data for the one season. Use of the check marks in the hinge to estimate age provided a growth history, and was relatively accurate. Intensive harvesting of oysters appeared to significantly reduce the accuracy of all techniques. Based on literature values, it is difficult to determine latitudinal gradients in oyster growth, but these data indicate more rapid growth in the northern Gulf of Mexico than in other locals. In general, oysters in higher salinity portions of the Delaware Bay seed beds grew faster than those in the lower salinity regions.
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Vol. 26 • No. 2