Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Contribution (Virginia Fisheries Laboratory) No. 25


The Seaside oyster producing grounds of Tidewater lie between the string of off-shore islands and the mainland. The area is made up of a series of wide shallow bays and marsh islands cut by channels through which the tide ebbs and flows. Streams emptying into these bays from the mainland side are short and, excepting in extremely unusual wet weather, have little effect on the salinity of the bay waters which varies from 28 to 30 parts per thousand. The tidal range is nearly 5 feet, and at high spring tides cover the highest points of the marsh islands. At low tide the bays are largely mud flats, or else are covered with only shallow water. The natural oyster rocks rise above these mud flats, built of accumulations of shell, and the individual rocks ordinarily are narrow ridges varying from perhaps 50 feet to a mile in length. Small oyster producing areas extend intermittently along the margins of the creek estuaries and the tidal drains of the marsh islands.

Although small stunted clumps of oysters grow high up on the marsh islands, the commercial production and optimum conditions are found in the lower half of the intertidal zone. All the "rocks" correspond approximately in the level of the lower margin, which is about at mean low tide. The elevation of the tops of the rocks above mean low tide varies with the individual rock. The height of any individual rock is a reflection of the intensity of fishing and the stage of its development.

Strike on the Seaside is heavy and consistent.