WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Officials say debris from Hurricane Irene suffocated oysters north of Sneads Ferry, but mature oysters in North Carolina's southern waterways don't appear to be impacted.
The Star News of Wilmington reports (http://bit.ly/nzqjXE ) oysters are struggling to recover north of Sneads Ferry, particularly in the western part of Pamlico Sound, since Hurricane Irene piled dirt and marsh grass on top of rocky beds.
State Division of Marine Fisheries shellfish biologist Stephen Taylor says oysters buried by sludge die because they lack access to properly oxygenated water.
Section chief Craig Hardy says populations of baby oysters are thriving in both regions. Those oysters won't be ripe for picking for several years. But Hardy says it's encouraging for the future.
Division regulations require oysters to be at least 3 inches long for harvesting.
Information from: The StarNews, http://starnewsonline.com