Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



PLoS One






Surveys of restored oyster reefs need to produce accurate population estimates to assess the efficacy of restoration. Due to the complex structure of subtidal oyster reefs, one effective and efficient means to sample is by patent tongs, rather than SCUBA, dredges, or bottom cores. Restored reefs vary in relief and oyster density, either of which could affect survey efficiency. This study is the first to evaluate gear (the first full grab) and survey (which includes selecting a specific half portion of the first grab for further processing) efficiencies of hand-operated patent tongs as a function of reef height and oyster density on subtidal restoration reefs. In the Great Wicomico River, a tributary of lower Chesapeake Bay, restored reefs of high- and low-relief (25–45 cm, and 8–12 cm, respectively) were constructed throughout the river as the first large-scale oyster sanctuary reef restoration effort (sanctuary acreage > 20 ha at one site) in Chesapeake Bay. We designed a metal frame to guide a non-hydraulic mechanical patent tong repeatedly into the same plot on a restored reef until all oysters within the grab area were captured. Full capture was verified by an underwater remotely-operated vehicle. Samples (n = 19) were taken on nine different reefs, including five low- (n = 8) and four high-relief reefs (n = 11), over a two-year period. The gear efficiency of the patent tong was estimated to be 76% (± 5% standard error), whereas survey efficiency increased to 81% (± 10%) due to processing. Neither efficiency differed significantly between young-of-the-year oysters (spat) and adults, high- and low-relief reefs, or years. As this type of patent tong is a common and cost-effective tool to evaluate oyster restoration projects as well as population density on fished habitat, knowing the gear and survey efficiencies allows for accurate and precise population estimates.

DOI pone.0196725 Editor: Jose´ A. F

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.