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The Mobile Oyster Hatchery Project:

The first MOH returns home.

The MOH project will build 2 new MOH units (MOH 2 and MOH3) and refit our prototype (MOH 1) to reflect improvements learned from our previous trials. We are starting from scratch for the new ones. First up – we need trailers. For all the MOHs, we are using used refrigeration (reefer) units with the refrigeration gear removed. That’s because the trailers go up for sale when the refrigerator dies. We were successful in finding two in great condition thanks to an inside connection with the trucking firm Webster Express in Boston, MA (my brother) and had them moved to a local shipyard for some basic modification, principally welding in a sump tank that will be used for heat recovery.

The third prototype unit has been in operations for years and was most recently deployed to Maryland for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Last weekend Mike went up to retrieve it with a local truck cab owner. I told Mike to text me when they were close so I could go over and watch the delivery of MOH 1. We have made arrangements with a local business man who has space nearby in Mathews to station our MOHs so we work on them. Conveniently, that space is only about 3 miles from my house (several more to Mike’s).

I got the text about ETA of MOH 1 for 7:45PM and the trailer had just pulled in when I arrived – a 53-footer. After unhitching the cab, the driver got out and we chatted. We chatted about the nature of the project, that there would be two more coming in soon, that this was the fabrication site, that we would deploy the trailers to Virginia, Georgia, and Florida, early in 2022.

The driver, Mr. Perkins, was intrigued by the project as many seem to be when we describe it to them. He asked, “Will you be consulting with VIMS at all on this project,” realizing that it is an exercise in marine biology. I replied that we didn’t have anyone from VIMS on the project but that I had just retired from there in April.

Mr. Perkins then started to tell us that he was familiar with VIMS because he was related to Frank Perkins. Frank Perkins was Dean and Director of VIMS from 1981 to 1990. His field was pathology and did pioneering work on Dermo disease, a problematic oyster disease along the east and Gulf coasts. In fact, Frank is the namesake for the organism that causes this disease, Perkinisus marinus. The coincidence of our truck driver’s relationship to VIMS – albeit as a cousin once or twice removed – and our project including this ex-VIMSer did not go unnoticed.

We wrote Mr. Perkins a check for the transport of MOH 1. And oh, by the way – we may have some other jobs for you in about 6 months when MOH 2 and MOH 3 are due to travel to the deep south.

Stan Allen

R&D Coordinator for OSH

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