Forbidden Sex Suspected In Unexplained Oyster Die-off

by Chris Patrick

Something is unlocking the chastity belts of sterile oysters. But is it killing them too?

Something is unlocking the chastity belts of sterile oysters. But is it killing them too?


In 2014, millions of oysters being grown at commercial aquaculture farms on Virginia’s Eastern Shore died en masse. Joey Matt, graduate student at Virginia Institute of Marine Science, is trying to figure out if this die-off has anything to do with the fact that these oysters were supposed to be sterile…but weren’t.

Listen to the story here:


Joey Matt pulls up his oyster cages up from the floor of the Rappahannock River.

Joey Matt pulls up his oyster cages up from the floor of the Rappahannock River.

Joey Matt and other researchers from Virginia Institute of Marine Science set up a makeshift table in the shallows of the Rappahannock River to count oysters on.

Joey Matt and other researchers from Virginia Institute of Marine Science set up a makeshift table in the shallows of the Rappahannock River to count oysters on.

Eastern oysters.

Eastern oysters.

Joey Matt (right) bags a few oysters to take back to the lab.

Joey Matt (right) bags a few oysters to take back to the lab.

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