New Report: Oysters Thriving In Severn River; Reefs Rebuilding

Published: March 7, 2022

An oyster via natural reproduction.

Recent efforts to bring oysters back to the Severn River are succeeding! The good news comes in a new report on a scientific oyster diver conducted by the Severn River Association.

The report highlights that oyster populations on three restoration reefs are exceeding oyster restoration thresholds of 50 oysters/m2 and the oysters are starting to naturally reproduce.

Oyster density at Traces Hollow was 104.0 oysters/m2; at Wade 463.5 oysters/m2, and at Weems Upper 127.4 oysters/m2. Oyster density at a fourth site, Peach Orchard, was only 36.1 oysters/m2. This site will have to be visited gain as the divers were unable to locate enough oysters to analyze.

Thanks to a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, SRA engaged oyster dive expert, Audrey Pleva, formerly with the University of Maryland’s Paynter Lab, to lead a scuba team on 25 dives to assess oyster populations and biomass density on five oyster restoration areas between the Rt. 50 and USNA Bridges.

Emi carries oysters to be analyzed.

In picture at left, SRA Field Investigator Emi McGeady, who was part of the two-woman dive team, is carrying oysters from one of the reefs to analyze population density and survivability.

Since 2018, we have planted nearly 80 million oyster spat in our river.

These plantings were made possible thanks to our partners — the Oyster Recovery Partnership, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, our donors who support Operation Build A Reef, and our oyster growers participating in the Marylanders Grow Oysters program.

Aurdey and Emi measure, count, calculate oyster restoration densities.

In the picture at right, Pleva and McGeady are counting and analyzing oyster population, counting live/dead oysters.

They are measuring oyster sizes, counting live vs. dead (i.e. “boxes) oysters, and calculating survival rates and biomass density of oysters on the restoration reefs in the sanctuary area of the Severn River.

The new report, Severn River 2021 Oyster Dive Monitoring Report, authored by Pleva and McGeady, concludes that population density of oysters is strong enough to warrant a “restored” categorization, and we celebrate news that the oysters are starting to reproduce naturally.

Click here to review the report.