March 1, 2022

Trove of oyster shells discovered in Potomac River. Now what?

Timothy Wheeler, February 28th, 2022

Hunting for sunken treasure evokes a sense of mystery. On a cold day in early February, there was plenty.

A misty rain chilled to the bone as Pete Springer guided his skiff past a rusting hulk, part of the Potomac River’s abandoned “ghost fleet” in Mallows Bay. A dense fog closed in, obscuring the wreck, shoreline and most everything more than a few yards ahead. Only the GPS kept the boat safely headed downriver.

Springer, accompanied by Marty Gary of the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, was seeking something precious in the Chesapeake Bay region — a trove of oyster shells said to blanket the river bottom in an area where bivalves haven’t lived for quite a while. Exactly how long, no one seems to know.

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