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TOGA/VIMS Partnership

TOGA – VIMS Partnership

VIMS and TOGA have a long history of partnership.  In the late 80’s, VIMS was providing outreach to the traditional oyster industry to introduce remote setting techniques, but the industry faced a big problem – oysters were dying before they reached market size.  Mark Luckenbach at VIMS started working with oyster gardeners and early innovators who had waterfront property and who were not part of the traditional industry. By the early 1990’s there was some success with oyster aquaculture that clearly demonstrated enhanced growth rates and reduction in disease mortality.  Consequently, VIMS began to be flooded with calls from homeowners wanting to know how to grow oysters which led to the birth of the first oyster gardening workshop at Gloucester Point and Wachapreague.


Since then, the partnership has grown.  TOGA provides continued support educating the public on oyster gardening and environmental stewardship on behalf of VIMS and VIMS provides annual science training for TOGA’s outreach volunteers through the Master Oyster Gardener Course and other educational seminars.  Besides outreach, TOGA members can assist VIMS by providing a network of passive surveillance, such as reporting algal blooms and alerting VIMS to unusual oyster mortality events in the garden.   These data, obtained from TOGA’s broad geographic dispersal of oyster gardens, are invaluable.  In addition to passive surveillance, opportunities do arise for TOGA members to actively participate in VIMS research by hosting a project in their garden.  TOGA’s VIMS liaison in the Marine Advisory Program helps to connect students to appropriate garden sites based on the research needs.


And speaking of students – TOGA generously supports VIMS graduate students through their Fellowship Endowment (established in 2012).  The endowment enables these bright, young scientists to lead us towards a more environmentally and economically sustainable oyster aquaculture future.

Sign up for the new VIMS Oyster Gardener Listserve! 

This new email communications tool is to send infrequent, but relevant and interesting content on oyster-related research/news/information, educational offerings (including TOGA/VIMS Master Oyster Gardening Course) and best practices related to oyster gardening health, safety, etc.  This is to augment the fantastic resources TOGA provides on oyster gardening fundamentals.  Give it a try!  To subscribe – follow the steps below.  If you have problems – contact Karen

Step 1. go to the list homepage:

Step 2.  Click on the subscribe button in the left-hand menu

Step 3. Fill out your email and name and hit subscribe

Step 4.  Verify subscription

Step 5.  Go to your email in box and you should see a message from SYMPA asking you to again verify the subscription – hit subscribe

Chesapeake Bay Environmental

Forecast System

Virginia Shellfish Aquaculture Situation and Outlook Report

TOGA Informing VIMS

TOGA is embarking on a long-term monitoring partnership with researchers at VIMS in two key areas: Oyster Mortality and Harmful Algal Blooms or HABs. TOGA members can provide observations from a wide variety of field sites that could prove to be key in the understanding of mortality events and harmful algal bloom events Bay-wide. VIMS asks TOGA volunteers to be alert for two possible events:


Oyster mortality events. If you suspect your oysters are dying at a rate higher than "normal," we ask you to contact Dr. Ryan Carnegie at VIMS, PO Box 1346, Gloucester Point, VA 23062 or Be aware that he may contact you to obtain samples for disease analysis. 


Harmful algal blooms (HABs), often called "Red tides" or "Mahogany tides." If you see patches of discolored water not due to runoff, please fill out the VIMS HAB reporting form immediately and monitor the event. The form can be submitted online by visiting the VIMS reporting webpage

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