Language selection


Winter storage of cultivated eastern oysters: survival and metabolic wastes



The eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, has a latitudinal distribution range of ~ 4,000 km, spanning from the Gulf of Mexico (27⁰N) to the Gulf of St. Lawrence (48⁰N). At the northernmost distribution limit of the species winter holding is a necessary husbandry consideration. Normally this is done by “holding” oysters directly on the seabed. However, upon sinking to the bottom in the fall, bags tend to settle onto the soft sediment, increasing the risk of burying the oysters. Winter burial poses a serious health risk to C. virginica and can lead to their death within 12 days. For this reason, there is a growing interest in transferring oysters to land-based holding facilities in autumn.

This project aims to test the effects of a new winter holding method on the physiological health of C. virginica. This holding method consists of spraying near-freezing seawater onto air-exposed oysters held inside a facility. The project will compare the health and physiological processes of oysters stored under these conditions to those of oysters stored using traditional holding methods: continuous immersion and dry storage. It will also test an intermediate storage method of alternation between showers and periodic immersion. This information can be used to develop a new and energy-efficient winter storage method for eastern oysters, while reducing oyster mortality.

Program name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


Three years: 2019-2022

Principal investigator

Luc Comeau, research scientist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Gulf Fisheries Centre, Gulf Region

Team members

Michel Desjardins, biologist, N.B. Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries


Léon Lanteigne, Owner, L2- Recherche et Production Aquacole Inc.

Date modified: