Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay will soon have a new home!  Fifth-grade students in Calvert County Public Schools (CCPS) are constructing oyster reef balls.  The 200+ pound concrete structures will be placed in oyster restoration sites in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries with the goal of helping to jump-start oyster populations.

Through a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, CHESPAX is working in partnership with the Maryland Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), the Friends of St. Clement’s Bay, St. Mary’s River Watershed Association, Morgan State University’s PEARL Lab, Chesapeake Beach Oyster Cultivation Society, and the Friends of Mill Creek to implement this project.

Oyster Reef- students from Patuxent Appeal and Dowell Credit: Calvert County Public Schools

The program is an expansion of the CCA’s Living Reef Action Campaign.  This project has placed over 4,000 oyster reef balls in Maryland waters.  The current initiative is the first time the program has operated in Southern Maryland.

In the fall, fifth-grade students participated in a CHESPAX field experience with the Calvert County Natural Resources Division and completed a classroom science unit on the importance of oysters to the Chesapeake Bay region.   The reef ball project is intended to provide students with a meaningful action project to aid in the recovery of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.  Oyster populations are a fraction of what they were a century ago due in part to overharvesting, disease, and loss of habitat.  The reef ball project aims to provide young oysters a place to grow on the solid surface of the concrete structures.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust grant will fund the project for two years.   It is hoped that the program can continue to operate beyond the grant period with additional funding and support from project partners.

Please contact Tom Harten, Environmental Educator, CHESPAX at hartent@calvertnet.k12.md.us for more information on the project.

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