North­eastern Uni­ver­sity assis­tant pro­fessor David Kimbro, a wild oyster ecology expert for­merly with Florida State’s Coastal and Marine Lab­o­ra­tory, called Alli­gator Harbor a “mar­ginal habitat” for oys­ters. Because of its lack of direct fresh­water sources and reduced flows into the bay, salinity has steadily increased in the last five years.

There aren’t many things as hardy as oys­ters,” Kimbro said. “They love the vari­a­tions of estu­aries. It stresses them out, but it wipes the slate clean of predators.”

Grown in cages, farmed oys­ters are more pro­tected from marine preda­tors, but a lack of fresh­water can still make them sus­cep­tible to diseases.

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