Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/252

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
238
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

placed in sloughs adjoining the bay, with the hope that favorable conditions would be met with there. Others were placed in artificially constructed salt ponds somewhat after the style used by the French.

What has been the outcome? The oysters, particularly the Princess Bay variety, have grown enormously and are in excellent condition. Until this spring no Eastern spat or young Eastern oysters had been discovered; this, of course, is the crucial point in the experiment; we know they will spawn, but will the spawn develop? Recently, much to our encouragement, a few young oysters, apparently of last summer's spawning, have been found and forwarded to Washington, proof positive that the oyster will propagate here, but not certain evidence of the practical outcome of the experiment. It is too early to predict results as yet; two years more are really required to tell the story.

For thirty years Eastern oysters have been shipped to San Francisco by enterprising firms of that city, planted there in the bay until a large size is attained, and then sold at an immense profit. These firms have always claimed that the Eastern oyster did not reproduce there. As far as can be ascertained from a reliable source, the shipments in recent years have rather increased than diminished, this fact being used as an argument to support the above statement. It is nevertheless a known fact that much Eastern spat and many adult oysters undoubtedly hatched there have been found by members of the United States Fish Commission and others. Moreover, with increasing trade one would naturally expect more shipments, even though the introduced oyster did propagate to some extent.

Ostrea lurida, the toothsome little native oyster which years ago was so abundant at Yaquina Bay, affording support to many families, has decreased in numbers to such an alarming extent that unless some radical measures are soon taken to prevent, the native oyster industry of this locality will be a thing of the past. This decrease in the size and numbers appears to be due to several causes. In the first place, there has been a very persistent tonging on a somewhat limited area. This might have been counterbalanced by proper precautions to insure a future supply, but, with characteristic lack of foresight, such precautions have been neglected, and the beds have been culled year after year, until the comparatively few oysters now marketed from Yaquina Bay are of very questionable size. Each oysterman has two acres of flats for private use. Three natural beds in the bay afford sources of supply for these private beds. The larger oysters tonged on the natural beds are marketed, and the smaller specimens spread on