Notes From the Field: Becoming an Oyster Woman

Stephanie Buhler is the newest addition to the Hug-Bro family (the HUGhes and KimBRO labs).  She and Hanna Garland have been alternating Scuba diving duties for David Kimbro’s new Apalachicola Bay study.  Stephanie was nice enough to let us strap a GoPro camera to her head as she dove, allowing us to capture images of the floor of the bay.  The images give an indication as to the severity of the fishery crisis. We will continue following this study. Tomorrow, we begin a series of videos looking at David and Randall Hughes’ NSF funded oyster study. Over the course of that research, they honed many of the techniques they’re using in Apalachicola Bay. The videos will take you into that study, and into the lives of oysters and the animals that make use of the reef.

This post was written on Sunday, January 20, 2013.
Stephanie Buhler FSU Coastal & Marine Lab

Today marks our sixth day out in the Apalachicola Bay surveying the oyster reefs. It could not have been a more beautiful Sunday with the sun shining bright and a crisp-cool breeze as we drove to our first reef. While Hanna and I definitely have our methods down to a routine at this point, today we had the opportunity to learn a “new” technique for grabbing oysters that did not require a single regulator. This morning our boat captain, Shawn Hartsfield, brought his oyster tongs on the boat for us, and we had a blast trying to get his method down for picking up the oysters.  Comically, he did not inform us that the metal tongs alone were about 40 lbs. as he watched our attempts in bringing our bundle of oysters to the bow of the boat. Best back and arm work out I have ever had!

Bringing the tongs onboard could not have happened on a more relaxed day.  Typically Hanna and I alternate days being the boat tender/diver, but today all of our reefs were extremely shallow and no dive equipment or assistance was needed. A fantastic hassle-free Sunday of work.

Hanna harvests oysters in shallow water.

The Apalachicola Bay study is funded by Florida Sea Grant.  In the Grass, On the Reef is Funded by the National Science Foundation.



About Stephanie Buhler

Hello my name is Stephanie Buhler and I am a new technician and science diver for Dr. David Kimbro. I recently received my Bachelors of Science in Zoology with a minor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. Over the past three years I have had a few field ecology positions that have placed me from Sapelo Island, GA, Shark Bay, Western Australia, Bimini, Bahamas, to now Apalachicola Bay, Fl. I originally met Dr. David Kimbro at the UF Whitney Lab and became intrigued as I watched him and his crew, the “Hug-bro lab”, dedicate countless hours getting their Atlantic coastline experiment set-up. I am very excited to work under Dr. David Kimbro and expand my knowledge on predator-prey interactions in an oyster ecosystem. I am planning to start my Ph. D. this fall to create my own field projects tackling how the loss in top marine predators affects our coastal ecosystems.

10 thoughts on “Notes From the Field: Becoming an Oyster Woman

  1. I vacation in East Point regularly at my best friends house on bay north of the East Point-Apalachicola Bridge. HE has stated that the oystermen (and women) were allowed to harvest all they could take shortly after the recent Gulf oil spill. Essentially over harvesting oysters to the point of an extinction event. I wonder if this has been researched by you all?

  2. HE & you that is not factual and unfair bias opinions or assumption. That is completely incorrect information and untrue. Check with the FCSWA, the Franklin Co. Commissioners and the Franklin County Extension Office regarding that issue.

  3. Hi,

    Honestly, we do not have concrete answers for what happened to get the oyster reefs into their current condition. But we are designing and implementing a monitoring program and some experiments that will allow us to answer such questions in the future.

    Thanks for your questions.


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