Young Davidsonville Gator Football Players Help Move Oyster Spat on Sunday
Davidsonville Athletic Association’s (DAA) seven- and eight-year old football players have just three more games to play this season and then they are done until next year. But on Sunday they did something that will have a long-term impact on our community and the Chesapeake Bay. They helped the South River Federation (SRF) with their annual “Flood Bucket Frenzy,” part of an oyster re-population program. The Flood Buckets are so named for South River Federation founder John Flood, who started his own oyster program using five gallon buckets with holes to raise oyster spat.
Over the years, the oyster population of the Chesapeake Bay has been hit hard, especially because of diseases like MSX and Dermo. The demise of the oysters is bad for two reasons. First, it is part of an economic engine that employs thousands of watermen and other workers; second, the oysters filter pollution out of Bay water. The oysters go about purifying the water while they are filtering it for food. They are really great little critters. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation estimates that an adult oyster (one oyster!) can filter as much as 50 gallons of water each day.
More to the story after these photos.
To help boost their numbers, the SRF, along with other environmental groups and riverkeepers from around the state, help homeowners and communities grow oysters over the winter. These oysters are then placed at reefs and in other areas in the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries.
However, the oyster larvae, called “spat,” is fragile. During Flood Bucket Frenzy, volunteers are moving the older spat to reef sanctuaries and putting new oyster spat in the buckets to grow over winter.
The Gator 80-pounders went out and helped on the docks. They stepped up as part of the DAA “Pillars of Leadership” program. The pillars program is a leadership development and training initiative for all DAA football players. Each week coaches and parents are asked to stress one of the 12 pillars, which are:
- Role Model
Despite the early morning drizzle on Sunday, the boys helped to move out the old oysters and to put the new oyster spat at Harness Creek, just off the South River. The participants included:
- DAA Football Commish John Mandish
- Coach Brian Burlace
- Gavin, Colin and BJ Burlace
- Drew Mestas
- Jack and Johnny Mandish
- Alano, Madison Harley
- Justin Martin
- Justin Stahl
- Joseph and Nathan Zacharski
- Logan Swarthout
As well as parents: Susanne Mestas, Stacey Harley, Brian Martin, Billie Stahl, Paul Zacharski and Keith Swarthout.
Many thanks to Suzanne Mestas for supplying photos and information for this story.