Oyster Reef’er Madness

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The Severn River is seriously compromised!

For thousands of years, oysters thrived in the Severn. They had a strong effect on the nature of the river itself, creating fisheries and influencing human life along these shores.

Fast forward to today – over harvesting, pollution, stormwater runoff, and increased erosion and silt from development have created profound biological change. Fish kills, dead zones, and harmful algae blooms are now common occurrences.

To address the problem, the Severn River Association and key partners have launched Oyster Reef’er Madness!


Our long-term goal is to plant 1.3 billion oysters in the Severn River.

Each oyster is like a small water-treatment plant, filtering up to 50 gallons of water per day! And, oyster reefs create the structure and habitat for other marine life to thrive, and improve fishing on the river. 

Our team of scientists, watermen, divers and volunteers are replanting oysters all along the river. A major focus for 2018 is to re-establish an oyster reef below Weems Creek near the U.S. Naval Academy Bridge. This location has a firm substrate bottom which oysters can easily attach to and get to work cleaning the river. We plan to continually monitor progress and see how well the oysters are doing. Ultimately, it will take billions of oysters to filter the entire river – from the mouth to the headwaters.

With your support, we can restore one of nature’s hardest working species and let them do what they do best – filter the water so that the Severn and its inhabitants can thrive now and into the future!


Severn River Association, Oyster Recovery Partnership, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, University of Maryland’s Horn Point Hatchery, and Chesapeake Bay Foundation.


Program Goal

Improve water quality to create a resilient reef habitat by planting and monitoring oysters that will perform their natural, historic function – to filter the water.

Program Outcome

  • Enhance conditions for fishing, swimming, crabbing, and other recreational activities.
  • Raise public awareness about the land-river connection.
  • Educate the public about ways to improve the river ecosystem
  • Improve and increase marine life (finfish and shellfish) habitat.