The updated version of this film explores the calamities that wiped out native oysters on the world’s richest oyster fishing grounds. The decline of the Chesapeake Bay oyster fishery devastated the economy of traditional tidewater communities in Maryland and Virginia. And the destruction of the oyster reef system with its immense water-filtering power also altered the ecology of the entire ecosystem. This documentary re-evaluates the usual suspects – over fishing, pollution, disease and mismanagement – in the light of fresh findings from science labs, from the bottom of the Bay and from long-forgotten historical archives. As the title suggests, this is a mystery story, and the investigation centers on three possible culprits: watermen who harvest oysters, oyster farmers who grow them and scientists who study them. The killing of Crassostrea virginica holds clear lessons for current efforts to restore oysters, lessons of hope and lessons of caution. Directed and produced by Michael W. Fincham, Maryland Sea Grant College.
Discussion with filmmaker Michael Fincham and oyster biologist Ken Paynter and skipjack captain Ed Farley, both featured in the film, follows screening.