Pricey Oysters

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Alabama oysters are worth almost three times as much as they were last year. And the price may go higher this Fall, since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wrecked much of the commercial oyster fleet and most of the shucking houses in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Reefs in both states were heavily damaged, with mortality rates as high as 60 percent across thousands of acres of oyster beds.

Alabama's oysters by comparison came through Katrina and Rita with fairly minor damage, with some biologists estimating about an 80 percent survival rate in the Cedar Point reefs surrounding the Dauphin Island bridge.

But oyster fishermen caution that Alabama's reefs have still not fully recovered from last year's Hurricane Ivan, which destroyed about 80 percent of the state's oyster population.