Hatching the Next Best Thing

Something is happening on Skidaway Island–something that is happening nowhere else in the state. The UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant are hatching the next best thing.

Tucked away on Skidaway Island, on the edges of the marsh and saltwater, something is happening. Teams of researchers and environmentalists are diligently at work, creating something that is happening nowhere else in the state of Georgia. And that something is the wondrous creation of oysters.

We’re not talking about the miniscule ones that float in a gumbo as a supporting ingredient to an overall dish. We’re talking about the kind of oysters freshly plucked from the surrounding saltwater marshes, small in size but enormous in flavor. The kind that come perfectly encased in the cup of an oyster shell, served with a slice of lemon and perhaps a dash of horseradish. The kind that are the star of a dish all by themselves.

Earlier this year, the University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, two non-profit organizations dedicated to improving and preserving the coastal environments of Georgia, opened an oyster hatchery on Skidaway Island. The goal of the hatchery is to bring Georgia’s coastal oyster beds back to life by growing high-quality oysters they can sell to restaurants in the area as single oysters that diners can enjoy on the half shell. They will have plenty to enjoy, too–the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant estimate that the hatchery will produce between five and six million oysters by 2018, and will continue this impressive production rate in years to follow. Diners will love these oysters, too, as the researchers are growing them specifically so that they will be easy to open.

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Join the Marine Extension and Gerogia Sea Grant at the UGA for their event "Oyster Roast for a Reason" on Dec. 2. It will take place on the bluff at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium. gacoast.uga.edu/oysterroast