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Restoration of Chesapeake Bay Oyster Reefs

These are excerpts from:

http://www.nytimes.com/1999/08/02/us/for-chesapeake-oysters-future-... Published: August 2, 1999

The oyster is a keystone species that had prodigiously filtered away impurities in the pristine heyday of the bay while propagating upward like coral reefs as magnets for other creatures.

The bay's principal scientists have recommended an all-out commitment to three-dimensional reef construction -- not mere flat-bottom beds -- as the key to restoring the oyster to its central place in the life of the bay.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a watchdog group of scientists and citizens that has worked with state governments for 30 years to repair and protect the bay. The foundation has worked toward a tenfold increase in the oyster population by 2005, using volunteers and the reef approach that is gathering momentum.

Seventeenth-century ship logs and sketches of the bay's old reefs have been consulted in building the score of new reefs dotting the bay. Up to an acre each, they rise up to 12 feet above the floor sediment and cost up to $100,000 each. By far the most ambitious step -- building a ring of 10 one-acre reefs plus surrounding fields of shucked oyster shells 10 inches deep -- is to begin next year in the lower Rappahannock River, once an oyster mother lode that has gone fallow.

The oysters are set in place by thousands of citizen ''gardeners'' -- including concerned boat owners and teams of schoolchildren -- who nurture young oysters at home and dockside and transplant them by hand to the reefs. The new reefs have been built atop vast piles of old oyster shells. The results include a remarkable improvement in reproduction rates as oysters mass upward and propagate outward for miles beyond the initial reef, said James A. Wesson, chief of conservation replenishment for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

''There's a public relations strategy in showing the reefs at low tide,'' Mr. Wesson said, noting that the reefs could have been built to remain out of sight. ''This way, the kids can see and touch the oysters right in place. They call themselves grandparents. Planting trees, they'd wait 20 years for the fun they get here in a year of tending to the oyster offspring.''

In his own act of bay adaptation, Mr. Wesson obtained a doctorate in marine wildlife after seeing his early career as a waterman in the long tradition of his family evaporate in bedeviling environmental problems and plummeting harvests.

Now he works on the cutting edge of the oyster restoration, overseeing 20 of the reefs and an annual budget of $300,000.

from http://www.cbf.org/Page.aspx?pid=1282 Published: August 22, 2008

Asian Oyster Impact Remains Unknown; Restoration of Native Species Urged

from http://wjz.com/local/oyster.balls.reefs.2.1345902.html Published Dec 2, 2009

As construction sites go, the one in Shady Side, Anne Arundel County may not be large, but the project is. In the ongoing struggle to restore native oysters to the bay, the oyster ball is a man-made habitat.

"We've lost not only the oysters themselves, but the towering reef structures that once existed to help keep oysters up off the bottom where they won't get covered with sediment," said Stephanie Reynolds-Westby, Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation supplies material and volunteers provide the labor. On Wednesday, the volunteers were from Davis Construction from Rockville.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation plans to make and stock 240 oyster balls by next spring.

The state decides where they'll go in the bay.

from http://www.cbf.org/Page.aspx?pid=1000 Published today

Did you know an adult native oyster can filter 50 gallons of Bay water each day?


I have a friends in Shady Side, Maryland and I will ask them about this project.

What I might be learning from this is that a shipping economy must be operated in a way that allows natural reef habitats to reform and if the damage is too much, to use mechanical technological ball help AND to avoid introducing non-native species.

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