Time To Celebrate New Arrivals In The Severn – 24 Million Baby Oysters!

Robert Lee oyster planting boat

by Tom Guay, Executive Director
Severn River Association

severn river associationoyster recovery partnershipBoy, do we have some great restoration news in the Severn River! Thanks to donors who love oysters, the Severn River Association and the Oyster Recovery Partnership just planted 24 million baby oysters and created a new oyster restoration reef.

The new bivalve arrivals are now ensconced in their happy home on the Traces Hollow restoration reef just south of the Route 50 Bridge. And, just a week later, they’re enjoying good water quality.

Jack BeckhamEmi McGeadySRA’s Field Investigators, Jack Beckham and Emi McGeady, report oxygen levels on the reef at 4.26 milligrams/Liter (mg/L).

This is pretty good water quality for this time of year. Salinity down there is good for our oysters, as well. Jack and Emi measured salinity at 9.12 parts per thousand (ppt).

In three years, when these guys mature (the oysters, that is), they’ll be filtering up to 50 gallons of water a day. And, one day, when the moon is high, the candles soft, the music mellow, and salinity is right (around 12 ppt), we hope that these baby oysters will naturally reproduce and start creating self-sustaining oyster reefs again.

The 2021 Operation Build-A-Reef project was the SRA/ORP partnership’s third effort, and it was funded entirely by private donations.

In July 2020, the Build-A-Reef operation planted 16.9 million oysters on a reef along Priest Point. In 2018, the  Maryland Department of Natural Resources planted 40 million oysters and the SRA/ORP partners leveraged community fundraising to plant an additional 5.1 million spat on shell. There were planted on three other historic oyster bars where the US Army Corps of Engineers had previously laid down substrate (hard surfaces) so the oysters will be above the muddy bottom of the Severn River.

These oyster restoration plantings are all part of SRA’s mission to one day have have 1.3 billion mature oysters cleaning and filtering the Severn every few days.

More good news ahead: A new report from SRA will detail how our oyster dive team has found proof that natural oyster reproduction is beginning to occur in the Severn.

Operation Build a Reef: Severn River was funded solely through grassroots donations from individuals, families, and businesses like title sponsor Smyth Jewelers, as well as the M&T Bank Charitable Foundation, and the Delaplaine Foundation, Inc. The program was made possible by Horn Point Laboratory, who diligently worked to spawn oysters, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources who provided in-kind support. Learn more at buildareef.org.

GreenGiveSRA is a GreenGive participating organization.

#sraontheriver #oysters #waterqualitymonitoring #waterkeeperalliance #severnriver @oysterrecovery #riverkeeper

Photos: Blue Moon Photography

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