Hoopers Island Oysters creates aquaculture exhibit at Hyatt

Submittted to Dorchester Banner/Hoopers Island Oyster Co.
Ricky Fitzhugh, managing partner of the Hoopers Island Oyster Co. (left) and Jason Shorter, the Hyatt’s recreation and marina manager (right) check progress of the oysters growing in a floating upwelled system at the River Marsh Marina.

CAMBRIDGE — To celebrate National Oyster Day, Hoopers Island Oyster Co. and Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina, recently unveiled a new aquaculture experience at the property. The exhibition features two elements: A demonstration of a working oyster farm at the River Marsh Marina and the ‘Oyster Room,’ an interpretive display located off the main concourse.

Hoopers’ Managing Partner Ricky Fitzhugh and Hyatt General Manager Joel Bunde partnered to showcase how oyster aquaculture has created a thriving, sustainable seafood industry in the Chesapeake region.

Mr. Fitzhugh – a commercial waterman by trade and former wholesale seafood business owner – said he is proud to collaborate with the Hyatt to communicate the critical role oysters play in Maryland’s economy and environment.

“We were honored to join the Hyatt in sharing the story of Dorchester County’s rich oystering heritage being revived today by the aquaculture industry,” he said. “It’s a unique way to educate out-of-town guests as they stroll along the marina’s floating docks and walk from their rooms to the resort’s restaurants and lobby.”

Maryland’s premier resort, the Hyatt Chesapeake entertains thousands of guests annually who come to the property for family fun, golf, meetings, weddings and other events. The Hyatt’s restaurants – Water’s Edge Grill and Blue Point Provision Company – serve Hooper’s hand-raised oysters including “Mermaid Kiss,” a new, deep cup cocktail-sized offering.

“This idea for creating a ‘little museum’ about the Chesapeake’s keystone species grew out of our annual Oyster Week celebration held at Thanksgiving,” Mr. Bunde said. “Our friends at Hoopers Island not only produce a great-tasting product but have worked with us in a unique partnership that will increase our guests’ interest in the oysters we serve and the many benefits they provide to cleanse our waterways. And, it honors the local watermen and aquaculture farmers who are continuing the Chesapeake’s great tradition of oystering.”

At River Marsh marina, visitors can see how oysters are grown, sorted and managed in a floating upweller system (FLUPSY) beginning with Hoopers Island larvae and seed. It includes growout gear from the nearby University of Maryland Center for Environment Science’s Horn Point Laboratory and the Oyster Recovery Partnership.

The Hyatt’s Oyster Room features descriptive panels, aquaculture gear, videos and literature about oyster farming and the Chesapeake Bay. Guests will come away with some fun facts and key messages, including an oyster’s ability to filter 50 gallons of water a day.

Developed by Hooper’s oyster technicians Natalie Ruark, Imani Black and Alyssa O’Prey, the exhibit was fabricated and installed by Mid Shore Graphics. When not in use by convention services, the mini museum is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

For information visit www.hoopersisland.com and chesapeakebay.hyatt.com.

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