Oyster Recovery

Oyster Recovery ~ Saving the Chesapeake Bay

We do more than Paddleboard, Our Oyster Recovery Efforts are Helping Save the Chesapeake Bay! 

Told By: Kevin Haigis

               In the fall of 2015, representing Capital SUP, I joined the ORP, oyster recovery partnership, accepting the task of planting and raising 50 oyster cages suspended from the piers at the South Annapolis Yacht Center in “Eastport” Annapolis Maryland. Oyster 1

Oysters are critical to the Chesapeake Bay’s recovery given their unique filtering capabilities and the crucial habitat they provide for many marine species. In their cages, young oysters, called spat, will collectively filter up to 50 gallons of water per hour while growing protected from smothering silt and most of their predators. These cages become miniature living oyster reefs also hosting an abundance of aquatic life such as mud crabs, grass shrimp, worms, baby eels and minnows.

At first the Oyster Recovery crew was skeptical about the oysters actually growing as all we had were 13 bags of shells. Our advisor Bob Whitcomb from the Severn River Association informed us that the shells had baby oysters (Spat) attached to the shell (substrate) and reassured us that the spat would grow through the winter months. The spats are smaller than a grain of salt and mature and grow through the colder months. Each bag was distributed through out 3 cages and lowered into the water to grow and be protected from predators. Oyster 2

Each month we would check the oyster cages, cleaning the muck and algae and allowing them to sit in the sun to bake off any extra critters that may have attempted to eat the baby oysters.

As the weather started to warm cleaning the oysters became a more tedious task as they needed to be scrubbed and rinsed and dunked in the water multiple times in order to remove the algae growth and clean the shells so they could breath. To our surprise within each oyster shell there were half dollar sized shells of new growth a sign that our oyster recovery efforts have been a success.

oyster3                                                  oyster4 oyster6

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