Welcome once again to the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.
This week’s question comes from Rodney. Rodney told us how he had a saltwater aquarium with an oyster drill, a small oyster and a naked goby living in it. One day, he found the oyster drill attached to the goby and when he separated them, the goby was dead.
He asked, “Have there ever been any studies of an oyster drill actually catching and killing small fish? The oyster drill attached itself to the oyster, but never actually drilled or ate the oyster. Why is that?”
After doing some initial research into this interesting occurrence, we couldn’t find any other documented incidents of an oyster drill feeding on something other than an oyster. We sought further advice from Dr. Roger Mann, professor of marine science and director of research and advisory science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) at William & Mary.
“While this is very unusual, I would not be completely surprised by such action,” Dr. Mann wrote. “Oyster drills are predators and will take available prey.”
He explained that the mouthparts of predatory gastropods are species specific and that those of oyster drills are designed for “rasping through shells, then devouring the meat of the prey.” But they could still be used for eating tissue of fish. Other gastropods, such as some cone shells, have mouthparts designed specifically for mobile prey like fish.
“As to why the drill never ate the available oyster, it probably was not hungry enough, especially if it has an easy meal in the goby,” he said.
This instance proves that while most species are creatures of habit, they will often do whatever is necessary to survive. To learn about more interesting creatures and critters in and around the Chesapeake Bay, check out our Bay Field Guide.
Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and your question might be chosen for our next Question of the Week!
The Oyster Recovery Partnership has launched Maryland’s first Oyster Shell Recycling Alliance, which will collect used oyster and clam shells from restaurants for oyster reef restoration projects in the Chesapeake Bay.
Local oyster shuckers, watermen and Oyster Recovery Partnership staff will pick up oyster shells from 20 restaurants, catering companies and seafood wholesalers in Annapolis, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
The shells will go to the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) Horn Point Laboratory on the Eastern Shore, which only uses recycled shells for its oyster restoration efforts. The lab raises baby oysters, which need shells to grow on, for oyster reef restoration projects in the Bay.
Once the baby oysters -- called spat -- attach to the recycled shells, they are added to existing oyster reefs in the Bay and its rivers. These new oysters and shells help oyster reefs grow and provide more habitat for other reef-dwelling creatures.
"This initiative is not only the first of its kind in Maryland, it is special because it all began with volunteers from the oyster shucking community who care deeply about our Bay," said Stephan Abel, executive director of the Oyster Recovery Partnership.
A pilot program conducted over the past 18 months collected more than 3,000 bushels (about 1.5 million shells) from local catering companies and on-call pickups. As a result of this initiative, the program anticipates planting approximately 15 million new oysters in the Bay.
For a list of participating partners and more information, visit www.oysterrecovery.org.