The Tabor Academy Oyster Farm, a collaborative project with the Town of Marion, was initiated in June 2013 as an effort to complement and build on the existing marine science program housed in Tabor’s Marine and Nautical Science (MANS) Center.
Our goals were to help support the existing Town of Marion shellfish propagation program by raising oysters to replenish shellfish beds and to utilize oysters’ natural ability to clean the harbor while providing our students with increased opportunities for hands-on fieldwork in a growing industry. To keep our farm vibrant and growing strong year-round, we start a new crop of oyster seed each June, seeding the harbor with the mature stock we have cultivated the year before.
Creating fantastic opportunities for real-world science
The oyster farm has created many interdisciplinary opportunities, as well as several volunteer opportunities for our students. For example, early on, the oysters were a focus of a student art project to create interpretive signs about the farm incorporating its purpose in their design. Student volunteers help count, care for, and segment our stock for various marine science and biology research labs, as well as assist in locating the oysters to winter grounds as temperatures change.
Importantly, the farm has served in the past as the focus for independent study and senior projects ranging from studying the business of aquaculture to how oysters may be affected by rising ocean temperatures. In 2016, we successfully performed spawning experiments under controlled lab conditions, and set spat on shell. The effort was aided by our association with Roger Williams University, whose aquaculture experts helped set us up for success. Read about this collaboration with Roger Williams University.