Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



American Malacological Bulletin


Special Edition No. 3

First Page


Last Page



The location size and extent of Virginia's public oyster grounds was determined using a long pole to probe the bottom , a towed sonic device that detected shell or oysters, and by sampling the bottom with patent tongs for shell and oyster density. Station location was determined using an electronic positioning system (Raydist® ). Bottoms were classed as oyster reefs, mud-shell or sand shell (productive or potentially productive). Areas having mud or sand or those in deep water over 30 ft. (9.1 m) were considered unproductive. Average oyster harvest for seed and market size oysters over the last ten years for various areas is related to size and location of various bottom type. About 203,404 acres out of the total of about 243,000 acres of public bottom were surveyed ; about 21 .8% of the surveyed areas was classed as productive or potentially productive. Average production was low on most of these public bottoms and ranged from 84.4 bushels/acre in the Great Wicomico River to only 1.6 bushels/acre in the York River. The seven areas producing the most seed and market oysters in terms of their average annual production in Virginia bushels were: James River 432,171 ; Rappahannock River 146,999; Pocomoke and Tangier Sounds 86,150; Sea side of Eastern Shore 63,122; Great Wicomico River 41 ,622; Piankatank River and Milford Haven 39,024; and Mobjack Bay 29,730.