BEAUFORT, N.C. — At Duke Marine Lab, students get to have hands-on experiences growing oysters at their aquafarm. 

What You Need To Know

  • At Duke Marine Lab students can learn how to grow oysters at their Aquafarm.

  • Oysters are disappearing around the world, but these students are trying to help re-establish them.

  • Tom Schultz wants his students to learn about where their food comes from.


Tom Schultz started the program in 2018. Every week he takes a group of students into the water to check on and maintain the oysters. They have to flip the bags and make sure they don't get overcrowded as they grow.

Oysters are an important part of coastal ecosystems because they filter water to help keep it clean, but they are in decline around the world.

“Once they're there, they're great, and they support other oysters to grow there, but once you lose them it's really, really hard to re-establish them. So that's what we're working on here, figuring out how best to establish them in wild communities,” says Ryan Rogers, a Duke University student working at the lab.

One of Schultz's goals is to teach his students where food comes from.

“It's that whole ethic of you don't have to buy food at Walmart,” Schultz explains. “A lot of people, when they think of aquaculture, they think it needs to be this massive commercial entity where you're gonna make lot of money, and it doesn't have to be that.”

Rogers and the rest of the students are working to figure out the best way to re-establish the declining oyster population in wild communities.

“We're just out here trying to see how they grow best, so we can help with some restoration projects in the area, but also contribute to the wider conservation of oysters for the future,” Rogers says.