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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/19

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THE CONSERVATION OF OUR OYSTER SUPPLY.

so, but says that the artificial propagation of the oyster "is absolutely necessary" to prevent its "entire extermination." In a report to the General Assembly of Maryland in 1887, Prof. Brooks also advocates the introduction of artificial propagation in these waters; Captain Collins suggests that such an experiment would be valuable; and Mr. Dean says that, although in this country "all costly methods of cultivation could have proved of little practical value. . . . enough has been said in this connection to show the necessity in practical oyster culture of collecting spat on floating collectors and of allowing it to attain, before planting, a considerable size." And notwithstanding all this testimony, Mr. Richard Rathbun, in the Report of the Commissioner of Fish, and Fisheries for the year ending June 30, 1889, tells us that "the production of spat by aid of artificial methods has never been resorted to in this country, in consequence of the fact that the practical utility and economy of any proposed system has yet to be established." I should have thought that this matter could have been long since determined at the hatchery at Cold Spring Harbor, where, I have learned, such experiments have been successfully made. But, as the artificial propagation is not generally understood, and as it is extremely interesting, I shall briefly explain the most successful and general method employed in France; and I believe that the most obtuse reader will then see the feasibility of carrying on similar operations here.

The collection of the floating spat upon pieces of wood and stone is said to have been discovered by M. de Bon, Commissaire of Marine at St. Servan, France, in 1853; and we know that, when he announced his discovery, the matter was "at once taken up most enthusiastically by M. Coste," Professor of Embryology in the College of France. They undoubtedly drew public and scientific attention to this all-important branch of oyster culture; but I find that several years before the discovery of De Bon, the oystermen of the East River, New York, had not only made a similar discovery, but that they conceived the idea of utilizing it, and used tiles (a recent invention in French oyster culture) for collecting the spat, which they planted in the river and sound. Further, and in circumstantial proof of the statement, it is a fact that in 1855—the year when De Bon made his discovery—the Legislature of the State of New York enacted a law "to preserve to the private (oyster) farmers the fruits of their labor."

I am chiefly indebted to Mr. Bash ford Dean's report on the Present Methods of Oyster Culture in France for the following brief description of the artificial propagation of the oyster in that country: The manner in which the spat or swimming oyster fry is obtained is very simple. Culturists place arched tiles, wooden trays, and other materials in the neighborhood of the natural