Bay Scallop Restoration

Bay Scallop Restoration in the Coastal Bays

  • Bay Scallop
    Bay Scallop  Adult scallop in grow-out phase  Photo by VIMS-ESL
  • Scallop Larvae
    Scallop Larvae  Larval culture, 112 ┬Ám  Photo by VIMS-ESL
  • Scallops in Nursery
    Scallops in Nursery    Photo courtesy of VIMS ESL
  • Scallops in Nursery
    Scallops in Nursery    Photo courtesy of VIMS ESL
  • Adult scallop in grow-out phase
    Adult scallop in grow-out phase    Photo courtesy of VIMS ESL
  • Adult scallop in grow-out phase
    Adult scallop in grow-out phase    Photo courtesy of VIMS ESL
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Following the successful re-establishment of eelgrass to the coastal bays we initiated a program in 2009 to restore a viable bay scallop population to these grass beds. With support from the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, the NOAA Restoration Center and the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, we have been working since 2009 to re-establish a bay scallop population to the seaside where they have been functionally extinct since 1933.

Our restoration effort began with collecting bay scallops from Bogue and Core Sounds, NC, in 2009 and transporting them to the Castagna Shellfish Research Hatchery at the Eastern Shore Lab.  There we spawned these scallops and reared the offspring to adulthood to provide abundant brood stock for use in Virginia.

Rearing scallops involves three phases: (1) the hatchery phase in which larvae are reared in tanks of seawater in the laboratory and fed cultured phytoplankton, (2) the nursery phase in which small juveniles are raised in flow-through tanks on land, and (3) the field grow-out phase in which the scallops are reared in cages in the field.  During the field grow-out phase, scallops are placed in cages in the seagrass bed where they spawn, producing millions of larvae that are intended to colonize the grass bed and ultimately establish a self-sustaining population.