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School by the Sea

Oyster Farm

An Environmental Collaboration

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 have helped 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 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. Our recent efforts to spawn oysters is sophisticated science our students are fully engaged with. They benefit, as we do, from our collaborations with Roger Williams University whose aquaculture experts helped us get set up for success.
Other schools have horticulture, our school by the sea has aquaculture.

The Aquaculture Class

It is within our Aquaculture class where the oysters are getting the most attention. The skills we are teaching there are practical as well as scientific. The students are not only learning how oysters grow and reproduce, but also about photosynthesis as they culture the phytoplankton they need to feed to the oysters. Aquaculture and biology students measure growth rates, monitor mortality, and check for predators while learning and applying research protocol and techniques in their experiments on how to grow oysters most efficiently. The freshman biology classes create hypotheses, measuring length and mass, as they observe growth patterns over the variable of water temperature. They take four measurements over the course of the year to determine when the strongest growth periods occur. We have also successfully performed spawning experiments under controlled lab conditions, and set spat on shell. Next, we are making plans for an oyster reef in the harbor. Read about our partnership with Roger Williams University.


Admissions Office: 226 Front Street, Marion MA 02738 | Mail: 66 Spring Street, Marion MA 02738 | 508.748.2000 |